September 25, 2009
Good nurses, good writing skillsGood nurses need good writing skills, says University of Calgary-Qatar’s new writing centre specialist, Martin Holock. It might not seem obvious at first, but effective written communication is critical to the profession. Nurses need to pass along information about patients’ history and progress to their colleagues. Nursing research and improving nursing practices depend on having proper documentation.
“You want to know what worked,” he says. “You want to know why the patient got better. And the only way to do that is through clear communication.”
With these needs in mind, Holock came to UCQ earlier this month to develop a program that will foster effective writing and communication skills among the nursing institution’s students. He brings with him years of experience developing fledgling writing centres in Canada and in India. He has bold goals for the new writing centre at UCQ.
“I’d really like to see the writing centre become the centre for learning communication on campus,” he says. “With everything here being so brand new, it’s an opportunity to build it from scratch.”
The writing centre will be a place where students can bring their assignments to get feedback at any stage of the writing process. They can get help on how to build an outline, develop a thesis, or use language more effectively. The idea is not to edit and fix students’ papers, but to teach them the ability to write on their own.
Most UCQ students are from Arabic-speaking nations in the Middle East, but many hail from other countries such as Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and the Philippines. A huge range of languages can be heard spoken in the school hallways. Writing in English will be a new challenge for many of these students, but helping non-native English speakers will not be too challenging for Holock. He spent six years working at the bilingual University of Ottawa’s writing centre which helps Francophone students write in English and Anglophone students writing in French. During that time he also started a national organization of writing centres, the Canadian Writing Centres Association.