Effectively Communicating Specialized Knowledge

Throughout college, one of the most prominent issues brought forth in my research experience is that oftentimes when sharing research with people who work in different fields, communication difficulties arise from a lack of familiarity with other’s disciplinary language, thereby straining people’s ability to effectively work together. An interdisciplinary environment provides interactions with an audience that does not have an extensive knowledge or biases of the individual’s field. It is important that people present their specialized knowledge clearly, in terms that those working in unrelated fields can understand and they must attend to challenges to their way of thinking coming from “outsiders”.

There are many strategies that can be used in doing so, including metaphors and personal anecdotes. My research focuses on the uptake of the new emerging concept of telemedicine. The concept of delivering healthcare digitally may not be as difficult for people in other disciplines to understand, however the significance is not usually well understood as the strategies have not yet been largely adapted to. One way that has helped me explain my research to others is by providing context and demonstrating how this research could directly affect the individuals I’m talking to. For instance, one of the reasons that studying digital healthcare delivery is important is because antibiotics tend to be over prescribed at high rates over telemedicine visits, causing many public health concerns. When people are presented with the statistical information about the rates at which unwarranted antibiotics are prescribed, the issue seems to become more personal and people worry about how much they have been misdiagnosed and give antibiotics they don’t really need. 

Currently I aim to be involved in healthcare as my professional goal. It is almost guaranteed that at some point I will have interactions with patients who are not involved in the medical field. In fact, throughout research that I have already done for my project, I have found that many patients often complain that they don’t always understand that their doctors are trying to communicate with them. For example, doctors will often tell patients that they have a virus or a bug without further explanation, leading to confusion and stress about health management. In addition, I would like to continue clinical informatics research throughout my career, and presenting research will often call for clear communication.

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