Are you satisfied with the writing ability of your supervisory and management staff? Or are you embarrassed by their written work product, feeling the need to re-write everything before it goes out of your office?

Sometimes it seems that supervisors (after years of writing EMS charts) have lost the ability to write a complete sentence, without abbreviation, and to construct a cogent paragraph.

If you have a similar concern, what are you doing about it?

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It's a little late at that stage in the game, isn't it? One of the coolest things I ever heard was that in Hennepin County, MN, prospective new hires have to hand write an essay about why they want to be a paramedic in that system. It gives the evaluators the opportunity to consider the candidate's penmanship, spelling, vocabulary, grammar, and structure.

It's a novel idea, when you think about it!

I suppose if I wanted to correct a senior employee's English skills, I'd send them back to community college to retake English 101 and 102.

Tom
Very nice Tom !!! I know that some organizations around my area have that same essay on the application but may not have thought to use that to assess an applicants ability to write or to evaluate their grammar. Thanks for sharing. ~Brent~
My father taught mechanical engineering at a university and he had a great idea for his students. He was going to get a grad student working on a degree in technical writing to grade his students papers for form and structure and then he would grade them for content. He retired before he could make it happen. I don't see why that wouldn't work for an EMS agency. Gather up a sample of each person's written work and have an English teacher grade it and then come to a meeting and provide feedback. Repeat the process two or three times over the course of six months.

It is amazing to me how the quality of a supervisor's writing can undermine the message they are trying to get across, even if the memo is addressed to employees who couldn't do any better.
I had a preceptor on staff that used to make poor penmanship paramedics use a plastic print template. The student had to write his reports using the template. It actually improvement dramatically. The nice thing about college paramedic training is the ability to refer people to writing labs and the disability center. More essay exams or writing exercises are called for in EMT classes. I like the Brady work text because is has exactly that a lot more writing in the book.
Writing coherently and appropriately is like any skill. Practice hones the skill. I fight the tendency to rewrite the documents submitted to me (unless its from the Chief and he wants me "tweak' something, then its game on).

One of the many hats of leadership is that of teacher and mentor. If I don't take the time to return a poorly constructed report with comments and suggestions then I have not fulfilled that important role. That move from patient care report writer to supervisor is a big step for our co-workers. It moves them into a new arena that focuses them on different priorities and job functions. Written communications necessary for this new role are one of the challenges thrust upon them.

On occassion, you have to sit down with person in a position that requires this skill and point out their obvious deficiencies. And in this meeting develop a plan of corrective action. It could mean re-taking a college level composition class or enrolling in an adult ed writing class or just paying more attention to how and what they write. I even paired a new supervisor with an experienced one that serves as their coach in preparing wrtten documents.
Blame it on the Internet. It is now "cool" to leave out capitalization, to abbreviate down to the phonetics, and to strip all courtesy and convention from the written word. People don't write at all any more; we message instead. I have heard of not just one but many career limiting moves due to terse, misinterpreted emails. So, we all need to be more careful. Heck Yeah! Call 'em out on bad narratives- those sloppy writers in EMS. How are we ever going to garner the respect we deserve if we can't spell our own names correctly?

If you want a real treat, read battlefield letters from soldiers during the Revolutionary War or Civil War. Those letters are sheer poetry full of emotion, thoughtful musings and tender romance in comparison with the quick missives sent today. On the flip side, my friends next door can Skype their son serving in Japan in as near to real time as you can even fathom. Now that's cool.

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