Comprehension and Vocabulary – Introduction


The health care profession is constantly changing; for example, research is conducted and published on a wide range of topics; government policies change and new best practices are introduced. Even though their schedules are demanding, health care professionals need to keep informed of what is happening in their field.

A lot of medical literature is written in a high level, formal language. Educational information for patients will not likely be written at that level and the writers attempt to communicate the message in more “day-to-day” speech. Not everyone agrees that this literature is accessible to patients and their families.

Good sources of information

If English is not your first language, you may find that your reading skills in English are better than your speaking skills. Your reading may, in fact, be very good because you had to study texts written in English while at school.

Learning and using new vocabulary is important to your success. There are many sources of health care information that you can read in order to improve your vocabulary and reading comprehension. Can you think of any?

Examples include:

  • Medical journals;
  • Magazine articles (e.g. in Chatelaine, Canadian Living);
  • Newspaper articles;
  • Health-related websites;
  • Education pamphlets produced by pharmaceutical companies (sometimes found in pharmacies);
  • Educational material produced by hospitals for their patients;
  • Fact sheets that accompany prescriptions;
  • Books on a wide range of subjects (from your local public library, university library or bookstore).