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Dear Doctor

English writing skills for clinical practice and the Occupational English Test

Norman Whitby and Dr Stephen Nickless

Catherine Richards Golini
January 2020

Targeted at students for clinical practice and for those preparing for the Writing component of the Occupational English Test, this is a useful and affordable book written by a former GP and an ESL teacher/writer. It’s A4 in size, with 12 units, all following a similar format: case notes are followed by an OET-type letter writing task, with model letters for each task. Each unit contains language work focusing on grammar or lexical aspects of use for the OET candidate and a ‘Writing Clinic’ which focuses on the nuts and bolts of letter writing such as paragraphing, organisation of information, punctuation and common spelling errors.

As the title suggests, the book is very much aimed at doctors, though clearly much is of use to any professional needing to practice professional letter writing, while an experienced teacher will be able to adapt and substitute tasks that are more suitable for other professions, particularly nurses, looking to sit the OET exam (the writing task is profession-specific).

The book was independently published which means it hit the shelves a lot faster than if it had been traditionally published, i.e. with a publisher.  It also means that some of the niceties of traditional publishing are absent: colour, graphics, fancy fonts and images are entirely absent. While these aspects may be of little concern to some teachers and students, it does mean that this is a very text-dense book. In my experience, text-dense language books work better when study is teacher-led. Had there been an editor involved, the book would also have contained more succinct, less wordy language explanations. This is an important point when attempting to target the book at a learner with a B1 in English. That being said, most of these are aspects that can easily be improved upon for the 2nd edition.

This is a very useful text, it’s fairly priced and – a nice touch this – half of its profits are going to the Refugee Council in the UK. It would certainly be of great use for doctors looking to improve their clinical writing skills for work in the UK and for those looking to sit – and pass – the Occupational English Test.

Published 2019; independently published/available on Amazon

119 pages; £15