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February 8, 1965

Solving the Communication Problem

JAMA. 1965;191(6):25-29. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03080060099057

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Effective self-expression is one of the most valuable skills a physician can have, yet it is an ability which few of them possess.

Many physicians approach the problem of scientific communication with reluctance and even aversion, says Lois DeBakey, PhD, assistant professor of medical literature, Tulane University School of Medicine. She attributes this to faulty early training which advanced education does little to correct.

"I am convinced that most doctors and other people are unable to write or express themselves effectively because they have been inhibited by the prescriptive rules of traditional grammar," DeBakey told The Journal. "The result of this approach to the teaching of English is to instill in the student a distaste for language that affects his use of it for life.

Medical schools do little to correct the situation, she added. Students are seldom required to write papers demanding more than minimal facility with language; and

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