A Year 2 medical student has been recognised for his essay-writing skills in a national competition. Chai Chung Sien, who is originally from Malaysia, entered his work in the Unofficial Guide to Medicine Essay Competition and was named runner-up earlier this year. He decided to write the essay to improve his writing skills, choosing the topic of doctors’ handwriting as it resonated with him.
“I had shadowed a doctor back in Malaysia and was fortunate enough to be given the chance to participate in an audit,” Chai Chung Sien said. “The focus of the audit was to assess adherence to the prescribing standards set by the governing ministry of health; one of which was legibility.
“Having experienced the healthcare in both Dundee and back home, I could see why doctors are stereotyped into having bad handwriting all over the world. This led me to question whether there is any truth behind this stereotype.
When researching his essay, Chai Chung Sien discovered that there had been a number of studies into the subject of doctors’ handwriting. “I was quite surprised to see that actual studies were done for what one would normally brush off as a joke,” Chai Chung Sien said.
Chai Chung Sien’s essay covered the implications that poor handwriting may have in a medical setting, including problems when prescribing medicines — particularly when they have similar name.
“The potential implications it can have in a medical setting are many. However, it all boils down to one thing: patient safety,” Chai Chung Sien said.
When Chai Chung Sien found out he had been named as a runner-up in the competition, he said he was “overjoyed”, though admitted his own handwriting isn’t particularly neat.
“I have been making efforts to remedy that as part of my self-reflection,” he said.
You can read Chai Chung Sien’s essay on the Unofficial Guide to Medicine website.