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January 11, 1964


JAMA. 1964;187(2):144-145. doi:10.1001/jama.1964.03060150068022

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While the word "writing" may indeed indicate penmanship (in which physicians are notoriously unskillful), more commonly the word indicates the content and style of that which is written. In this sense good writing demands clarity as the indispensable minimum, but a pleasing mode of expression—an attractive style—is only a little less important. Indeed, today's savage competition for the reader's attention makes increasingly important an appealing style. Effective communication, so crucial to medical science, depends largely on the character and quality of the writing.

The term "medical writing" covers a very wide range of expression. "Medical journalism," on the other hand, represents activity more specifically directed and formalized, limited by the requirements of periodicals. Both represent aspects of communication. While many physicians are indeed extremely capable writers, many others, unfortunately, have proven themselves the exact opposite.

The American Medical Association, aware that communication represents a vital area in both medical science

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