Writing in Veterinary Medicine

In our third paper the assignment was given to write about the “Analysis of University Writing” but, I changed my paper to focus more on the writing done in the job field I plan to go into.  This paper went into the outcomes of how students will develop flexible processes for engaging in academic inquiry and how students will also develop knowledge of conventions for different kinds of texts and demonstrate substantial control of the conventions of edited Standard American English.

In the veterinary field writing is an important component to the day to day life of a veterinarian.  Veterinary technicians also have writing responsibilities included in their jobs.  How is writing laced into the veterinary field?  Writing is in almost every aspect of the daily veterinarian’s job.  A veterinarian may not have to sit and write a paper such as a professor or a case like a lawyer may have to but, the writing included in a job description for the veterinary field is extensive to some degree and includes several types of scientific articles.  All writing included in veterinary medicine is important and has value to each part.  Veterinarians and veterinary technicians must be well trained to follow the writing required throughout their days.

What Do Veterinarians Document?

            As a veterinarian, there are several things that need to be documented.  Some documentation includes prescriptions, medical charts, and records, emails to pet owners, etc. When taking pets to the veterinary office for a checkup, it is expected to have the veterinarian come in with clipboard or folder in hand ready to jot down the new diagnostics for the animal being looked over.  After the appointment, owners speak to the receptionists who regurgitate whatever it is that the veterinarian has written down in the medical chart to explain what medicines and prescriptions the pet needs. 

After the pet and their owner leave the office, it’s the veterinarian’s turn to plug the new information into the system.  A veterinarian now needs to make sure they have a date estimate for the next appointment needed in case the owner (like everyone else) forgets to set their pet’s next appointment six months down the line as was most likely discussed during their appointment.  When documenting the appointment and the vet’s findings, a veterinarian must write a prescription if needed, or maybe put in a new order of Heartguard to allow more owners to purchase the medicine on site and take it home that day.  The veterinarian may also need to label and set up some tests to look further into the pet’s condition.  These are just some smaller examples of what writing can look like in the veterinary field, there are several other bigger portions where a veterinarian may go into research, etc.

Thinking about and learning about what veterinarians actually write and document was very interesting.  This was probably one of my favorite papers since I was able to dive further into my field of interest.

Scientific Types of Veterinary Writing

            Part of a veterinarian’s job is the actual performance of surgeries and taking care of the animals in the practice.  The writing portion of their job is not the first thing people normally think about, but it does seem to be a big part of the job.  According to Writing for Publication in Veterinary Medicine: A Practical Guide for Researchers and Clinicians written by Mary Christopher and Karen Young, some types of scientific articles include: “full-length original research articles; brief communications; technical reports; case reports; review articles; letters to the editor; research abstracts; thesis or dissertation” each one of these types of articles is a great example of some of the more in depth writing work a veterinarian may have to go into.  A veterinarian must also have to consider how to go about writing their journal entries, reports, articles etc.

I learned about several types of “scientific writing” which I hadn’t known before researching it.  There were many more writing opportunities than I had previously thought so it was interesting going further into the topic and learning more.  It will be a good thing to know later on if I choose to write my own research paper or journal entry.

Veterinary School Writing

            When looking up the writing requirements some veterinary schools such as Texas A & M require the Chicago format instead of an APA format.  They give extra tips on the writing style they would prefer along with where a student could go to find words and define them.

On the Tufts University website for the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine they offer help as to how to write “Grant Writing Tips” which then goes through specific aims, background and significance, preliminary studies/feasibility studies, experimental design and methods and key points for budget justification.

            When looking into what to research when trying to look into what to write an article or report the online book Writing for Publication written by Christopher and Young a great question brought up is “Why publish?  Your research and clinical observations are important.  In addition to disseminating knowledge, scientific articles promote thought and debate, change practice, and stimulate future research.  In academia, publication is essential for career advancement because it documents research quality, productivity, and accountability.”  When thinking about why a veterinarian should write something those points are a great way to rationalize and make sure the veterinarian or the vet tech goes through with their article or report, etc.  When thinking about how to develop a research question the book Writing for Publication also gives a section titled “Developing a Research Question” which continues to go into how a veterinarian or someone else in the veterinary field could plan out how to come up with a proper research question.  “Learning to ask questions means learning to think critically and creatively, to question assumptions, and to develop the scientific curiosity to probe deeper” (pg. 3 paragraph 7) brings up a good example of what a research question should accomplish.

I also looked into writing in vet school since that is a big part of learning how to write later on in the job field when a veterinarian is writing a journal entry or research papers.

Interview Highlights

            In the interview done with Ms. Karen Bowles, several questions were asked bringing up the subjects of what kind of writing she did as well as what writing she saw as a veterinary technician in a vet clinic.  Describing how writing really differs between writing in an actual veterinary clinic versus a veterinary science class Ms. Bowles writes, “Writing in class is very different from writing in a vet office.  On patient charts in the hospital, we use a certain format, with lots of abbreviations due to time constraints.  Charts must be short and concise, yet readable.  Abbreviations used are standard for the industry, so anyone reading the chart can understand what it says.” When talking about things other than articles, reports, or assignments in veterinary class there is prescriptions that must be written in the veterinary office as well, which Ms. Bowles says is “totally in code”, which means that the form of writing we see as pet owners on a pill bottle is in total abbreviations such as QID (4 times a day), BID (2 times a day), or PO (per os= by mouth).

            The interview with Ms. Bowles gave great insight into the writing requirements for a veterinary clinic and a veterinary science class.  Writing in the veterinary field covers a vast majority of requirements throughout the job and includes writing in a simple veterinary science class in high school, in veterinary school in college, and even includes after a veterinarian or vet tech is well into the field doing their own research.

While writing this paper we also had to gain information from a professional, so who better to interview than my high school Veterinary Science teacher?  I have stayed close with my teacher, and she never fails to help me whenever I need her.  This interview was no exception.  She offered me wonderful advice since before she became a Veterinary Science teacher she worked in a veterinary hospital as a veterinary technician, so she knows first hand what type of writing is done and when it is needed.

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