Writing skills

Last updated: Friday, August 03, 2018

Not everyone has good writing skills at the start of their pharmacy career. Fortunately, these skills are relatively easy to learn, although it takes practice. It’s helpful to look at written material prepared by a more experienced person and learn by their example.

Here are some example situations when you will need to concentrate on writing well:

  • Sending emails to a professional colleague.
  • Authoring an audit or research project.
  • Submitting your CV, or applying for a job.
  • Leaving advice or instructions in a patient’s notes.
  • Preparing reports and guidelines.
  • Contributing material to an NHS website.

There are two main reasons for writing well: 

1. Clarity
If you write poorly, then what you say may be difficult to understand or even misinterpreted. This may be because you have been ambiguous, used confused language, omitted details, or actually said something different to what you intended.

2. Professionalism
Words are your instructions to others. If your writing is rubbish, then people reading it may think that you’re rubbish too. This means they may ignore vital advice or information that you’re trying to give them. It’s all about context. What you say when you text your mates is up to you, but how you communicate at work will be seen as a mark of your professionalism. You’ve got to learn to do it well.

Not a good way to make an impression when emailing a consultant...

Writing an answer in response to a clinical problem and sending it via e.g. email helps to avoid some of the misinterpretations or mis-rememberings that can happen when an answer is only communicated verbally. Written responses also enable larger amounts of information to be provided.

If you are just starting out, it can sometimes be difficult to find the right words to get your message across clearly. The University of Manchester have developed a useful Academic Phrasebank to help you.