ERIC Number: ED321798
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1989
Medical Documentation: An English Composition Professor's Perspective.
Freeman, Mary G.
Nursing textbooks which address the subject of medical documentation tend to equate good documentation of a patient's behavior and state with strong interpersonal skills on the part of the nurse. Rarely do they point out the importance of developing a deep concentrated attention to the sensory world around oneself in order to be a good medical documentor. The observation skills so often emphasized in learning to become a good fiction writer can and should be applied to the training of nurses in medical documentation. The nurse must develop what Flannery O'Connor calls "staring," or the habit of seeing deeply. Observational skills, untainted by predispositions of motivation, personality traits, or emotional states, are critical to a good medical documentor. To learn good observational skills, documentors must overcome the problem of selective attention, which always forces observers to ignore some sensory information. In addition, medical documentors must resist the pull of the four main natural attractors of a stimulus, that is, its size, intensity, contrast, and movement, any one of which may cause a particular sensation to receive attention at the expense of competing stimuli that may actually need it more. In attempting to define the particular habit of mind which a medical documentor should develop, students must avoid the pitfalls of the methods which the brain uses to maintain constancy, such as context (physical, social, or cultural), personal physical characteristics, and attribution. Ultimately, nursing students could benefit from observational skills disciplined by self-awareness, a carefully analytical second look, a distrust of assumptions, and diligent defense against hasty conclusions. The more allied health professionals learn about the perceptual process, the more critically discerning their habit of observation will be. (JMC)
Descriptors: Community Colleges, Documentation, Interdisciplinary Approach, Medical Care Evaluation, Medical Services, Nursing, Nursing Education, Nursing Research, Perception, Perceptual Handicaps, Social Cognition, Two Year Colleges, Writing Exercises, Writing Improvement, Writing Instruction, Writing Skills
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers; Guides - Non-Classroom
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Interface Conference of the Humanities and Technology (Marietta, GA, 1989).