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Nervous Nellie

29 Aug

godlessnurse

Confession time.

Leaving the bedside as a nurse for a management job was quite possibly one of the worst things I have ever done.

Now that I have returned to the bedside, I feel nervous, anxious, worried, and doubtful. And it sucks. Big time. Things as simple as an IV push medication have become anxiety-provoking. I am afraid I’ll forget something, forget everything, forget to chart a detail, forget to draw a lab, forget my brain at home.

Yes, it’s true. I have forgotten how it feels to be a confident floor nurse.

Sigh….

I have bit my tongue for quite some time about my stint in management, but when I look back upon that brief experience, I don’t have much to feel good about. I felt awful going to work almost every single shift. I never once felt that I was making a difference.

I felt like I was checking boxes.

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What style of language do scientists really prefer?

28 May

Stroppy Editor

“Our readers are intelligent, well-educated scientists. Why should we make our language dumbed-down, patronising and imprecise in the name of ‘readability’?”

It’s a fair question. Here’s the answer.

Never talk down to your readers. But never waste their time, either. And scientists, while intelligent and educated, are also busy. As well as their research, they may have teaching, management or clinical duties to perform, funding applications to write, presentations to plan, journals to keep up to date with… They don’t have time to wade through verbiage in search of facts.

If you’re writing about something complex, then of course you need to give all the necessary detail. If you’re writing for specialists, you can use their specialist terms. But you don’t need to add verbal complexity beyond that. Keep it clear and direct. This makes your writing more efficient and more likely to succeed in communicating your message. It’s also…

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Choosing the Singular They 

28 May

Explorations of Style

In this post, I want to talk about an issue that has been troubling me for as long as I have been writing this blog. Should I be using the singular they? That is, should I be using they as a gender-neutral pronoun for a grammatically singular antecedent? In general, I have not done so, but trying to fix this sentence from a recent post forced me to revisit that policy:

An established Harvard academic writing a book is doing something very different than a new doctoral student attempting their first article.

My usual way to circumvent this issue has been to use the plural. But that solution—‘doctoral students attempting their first articles’—worked dismally here. Making the whole sentence plural sounded daft, and making only the second half plural upset the comparison. So I left it as it was and made a note to make a more systematic decision later (and…

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where you stand . . . depends on where you sit

17 May

Living with Open Hands

“Where you stand . . . depends on where you sit . . .” The viewpoints you are most likely to advance (your stance politically, your opinions) are decisively determined by the place you occupy economically, in your career, in your community, in your organization, in society. We must not ever presume to speak for others; especially those outside of our scope, like the poor, the battered and bruised, the broken hearted, the “least of these.” We must ‘live’ there . . . and listen.

Three years ago, I sat in a very different place in life with very different viewpoints.
An entrepreneur, a social entrepreneur at that, making enough money to actually pay the bills.
Two income family.
Home owner.
Living in a middle class neighborhood.
Going to a middle class church in a poor neighborhood. (Made me feel better about church)
Wondering why those people in that poor…

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Ethnography: A Scientist Discovers the Value of the Social Sciences

22 Apr

In NEJM: Protection or Harm? Suppressing Substance-Use Data

16 Apr

This post is jointly authored by Nicholas Bagley and Austin Frakt. Yesterday evening, the New England Journal of Medicine released a Perspective piece that

via In NEJM: Protection or Harm? Suppressing Substance-Use Data.

In Support of Academic Writing

27 Feb

Explorations of Style

Last fall, Steven Pinker promoted his new book, The Sense of Style, with an article in The Chronicle Review entitled “Why Academics Stink at Writing”. I didn’t write about this article at the time because I hadn’t yet read the book; while I had a lot of concerns about the article, I was reluctant to share them in the absence of an understanding of his overall intentions in the book. Over the winter break, I read the book in order to write a review; what I found was a thoughtful diagnosis of the habits that impede strong academic writing and a great deal of incisive writing advice. I recommend Pinker’s account of how what he calls the “curse of knowledge” (p. 59) prevents us from grasping what the reader needs to know. And I recommend his approach to managing complex writing, especially at the sentence level. I feel certain that most serious…

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The Craft of Revision

19 Dec

Explorations of Style

All academic writers have some sort of revision process, but that process is often either insufficient (just nibbling around the edges) or scattershot (catching some things but missing others). To improve our revision practices, we generally have to both deepen them and make them more systematic.

My starting point here is the near impossibility of crafting reader-ready first drafts. If the material is conceptually complex, if you are still struggling to understand the implications of what you’ve learned, if the internal connections aren’t yet apparent to you, then the first draft is going to be clumsy. At that stage, the text will be something that you are still learning from rather than something that others can learn from. For most of us, making the transition from a text that helps you to a text that helps the reader takes multiple iterations. When I talk about needing to make a commitment to extensive revision, that choice of words…

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invisible disability.

28 Sep

at least i have a brain

I was a long time diagnosed with, and talking about my Chiari malformation.
It’s one of those lifelong conditions..
the invisible chronic pains…
the one that you spend about 10 years proving you have…
and then you read the support literature which talks about “spoons”.
i said nothing for a while …before i ventured to ask…”what are the spoons about?” – round here in northern ireland  “you’re a right spoon!” is NOT a compliment.

So have discovered the Spoon analogy but still refuse to use it… BUT i understand the concept of chronic pain…everyday pain…deciding whether you have the energy to get off the bed…recovery days.

THIS IS a GOOD DIAGRAM representing invisible conditions.

I don’t have any listed but it covers connective tissue disorders, neurological conditions, brain malformations…even depression.

The easiest answer on the ODD day that you are OUT and met in town , to the question “How…

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Massaging Medicaid

3 Jun

A week-and-a-half ago, the D.C. Circuit upheld the criminal conviction of the owner of a clinic that bilked Medicaid out of millions of dollars: Wheeler owned

via Massaging Medicaid.

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