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February 8, 1964


JAMA. 1964;187(6):452-453. doi:10.1001/jama.1964.03060190068020

"What hat do you read, my lord?" queried Polonius. To this Hamlet replied, "Words, words, words." The dialogue might have continued, "Are these words, my lord, well chosen? Do they impart what the author means? Are the thoughts expressed worth expressing?" And were Hamlet a 20th century physician, he would reply, without feigning madness, "For the most part, no."

If we then try to disentangle the reasons, we find complexities affecting all levels of our educational system. No panacea is available. Remedies must come piecemeal. The American Medical Association, already working along several lines to improve over-all medical education, has initiated a new attack, concerned specifically with medical writing and editing—journalism in its broad sense. The specific details have been given elsewhere.1 The theoretical aspects deserve a word of mention here.

Medical writing forms a part of the broad area of communications. It is through words that the author

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