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Tools for Supporting Students and Professionals in Medical Fields

by Lynette Penney | Oct 18, 2012

Find out more about what tools and software can offer those students and professional in nursing, medicine and other medical fields.

According to statistics provided by the Higher Education Statistical Agency (HESA) for 2001-2002, approximately 10% of dyslexic undergraduates were studying on courses related to medicine. The majority of these students were on nursing courses. Evidence also suggests that people with dyslexia are drawn to people-orientated careers, such as nursing and midwifery (Sanderson-Mann, McCandless 2006).

Medical disciplines can causes particular problems for learners and professionals who have spelling and reading difficulties as they need to:

  • read and spell accurately a large number of specific terms
  • make notes and remember patient details quickly and accurately
  • make quick and accurate mental calculations when administering and prescribing drugs
  • learn the correct pronunciations of medical terminology

Learners on medical courses will also spend some time on placements where they may have limited access to technology and computers while having to work independently of support staff. However there are a growing number of handheld and computer based resources that can help them.

Handheld Solutions:

The Spellex Handheld Medical Speller provides a portable phonetic spell checker for medical terms. It will spell check over 300,000 medical and pharmaceutical words. You can store names and phone numbers in the built-in databank. It also includes a calculator and a databank for storing up to 150 names and contact details. You can even schedule alarms for important meetings and reminders.

However this spellchecker is American and may not include all UK-specific spellings. It also does not have a dictionary or speech function so may not help those who find it difficult to identify a correctly spelt word from a list.

The Franklin DMQ-2100 is a UK spell checker and dictionary with speech feedback. It has the ability to search over 40 subjects which includes Medicine.

Android Devices

Android devices such as mobile phones and tablets can help with organisation as they contain calendars and reminder tools. Access to the internet for information gathering and email facilities are usually available.
The other advantages of Android devices are the ability to download helpful Apps, such as CapturaTalk. The CapturaTalk App uses the built-in camera so you can capture essential information from written material for example from a book, a leaflet, sign etc and have it read back to you.

The photo you take of the written material will be scanned before the text-to-speech function will read it out loud and you can then store it for future reference. CapturaTalk also contains a Word Processing function so you can write and have the text read back to you before sending it out as an email or saving it as a document.

Computer-based Medical Resources:

Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium provides high-quality speech recognition. Used with Spellex LE medical, an add-on for Speech Recognition software you can access a range of medical vocabulary to make it quick and easy to transcribe medical notes and documents with correctly spelt specialised terms.

When used in conjunction with a Dragon-certified digital recorder, such as the Olympus digital recorder, reports and notes can be created wherever you are working to be transcribed later.

Inductel’s Medical Dictionary and Speller is a stand-alone US medical dictionary which includes UK specific terms. In total it includes 40 000 terms and it works on both Windows and Mac. Throughout the dictionary there are hundreds of anatomical illustrations including clickable graphics. The spell checking tool integrates 100 000 medical terms into the spell checker of common word processing applications such as Microsoft Word.

Spellex Medical MS Office 2010 Spell Checker integrates 300 000 terms into the spell checker of your word processor. It will work with most versions of Word (PC or MAC), Word Perfect or Pocket Word for PDA but we do need to know which program it is to work with on ordering. You can buy Spellex Spell Checkers covering more than one topic including dentistry and pharmacy.

Please note that Spellex and Inductel software are not compatible on the same computer.

References

Sanderson-Mann, J., McCandless, F.(2006): Understanding dyslexia and nurse education in the clinical setting. Nurse Education in Practice, 6 , pp.127-133.