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Logan Simmons
Megan Keaton
ENC 1102
July 23, 2014
Inquiry Research Project
Studying to become a clinical psychiatrist has been a dream of mine for at least five years
now. It all started back when I was a sophomore in high school enrolled in my first ever
psychology course. Now although it was just a General Psychology class, it was still enough to
spark my interest and solidify my desire to pursue that career. To this day I have held strong to
that dream and I am now a second year psychology major at Florida State University. Its kind of
funny to think back on that class I took way back in the tenth grade and I now realize now that it
changed my future. Back then if you would have asked me what I thought was influencing me
the most at the time, I would have probably told you that it was music, or surfing or something
nave like that. The truth is, without that class I am pretty positive that I would not have chosen
psychology as a major and definitely would have never even considered what it would be like to
be a clinical psychiatrist. Now that I am a college student who knows what direction that I want
to take my life in regarding a career, I really need to begin to explore what exactly I would be
doing if I do accomplish my dream of being a clinical psychiatrist.. Honestly up until this point, I
havent really done anything about that even though I knew in my head that I should be
researching these things. This research paper gave me an excuse to finally start doing what I
should have started quite a while ago., and nNow that I have done that I am actually even more
interested in the field. For the purpose of this assignment, I directed my attention to the genres of
writing that a clinical psychiatrist must use in the field. Three of the most common genres of
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writing for a clinical psychiatrist are writing written prescriptions, writing patient reports and
files, and writing research articles for things such as medical or psychology journals. Although
most people probably assume that a clinical psychiatrist just needs to talk to people for their job,
the reality of it all is that a clinical psychiatrist has to write much more than what most people
realize and it is a very important part of the job.
The most common genre of writing that is used in the field of clinical psychiatry is the
writing of prescriptions for patients. Most people probably assume that both psychologists and
psychiatrists can write prescriptions for people, but that is actually not the case. The two job
titles are very different from each other, as one requires just a masters degree (psychologist)
while the other requires a PhD in medicine so that they can write prescriptions for patients
(psychiatrist). Other than this small difference between the two job titles, their jobs are very
similar and for that reason I will use the two terms interchangeably when discussing the other
genres of writing in the field. These two fields have very recently begun to merge actually to
create a new hybrid career path that is being called the Prescribing Clinical Health Psychologist.
I found this particularly interesting because the prescribing of medications is no longer solely in
the hands of a psychiatrist, but is now being opened to psychologists as well. The reasoning
behind this is that most patients who are in psychological distress enter the mental health system
through primary care clinics, and that this is the driving force behind this newly emerging field
(McGuiness 1). When a psychiatrist writes a prescription for a patient, there are not many
expectations regarding sentence levels or organization, however it is very important that the
medication is spelled correctly, along with everything else on the prescription note. The doctor
must also be able to write instructions for the pharmacist as to how much of a dosage to give to
the patient along with instructions for taking the drug. The audience for these prescription notes
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is generally a pharmacist or set of pharmacists who must prepare the drug for the patient. The
prescription note is essentially a message from the doctor to the pharmacist that gives
instructions for that pharmacist so that the patient can receive the medications that he or she
needs in the correct dosage. Even though a prescription note does not require much writing, it is
probably the most important genre of writing that a clinical psychiatrist has to use in the field,
and not to mention the most commonly used genre as well. And even though a prescription note
does not require much writing, aA psychiatry student has to undergo extensive training to
prepare themselves for writing them due to the drastic effect that they can have on a patients life
(Sechrest; Coan 2). If a prescription is improperly written or not fully understood by the
psychiatrist, the patient could suffer permanent injuries and not to mention their entire visit
would have been a waste of time. Because of the prescription notes genre and purpose, it is
extremely important that each note is 100% accurate and is completed on time so that the patient
receiving medication undergoes proper care. Without the writing of prescription notes, the
clinical psychiatrist field of clinical psychiatry would cease to exist and many patients would not
be able to function normally in society.
Another genre of writing used by a clinical psychiatrist is the writing of patient files and
reports. It could be argued that this genre is just as, if not more important, than the writing of
prescription notes. Without patient files or reports, a psychiatrist would not be able to keep
updated records and progress reports on his or her patients, and would not be able to give them
the care that they require. Because of this, I suppose that it could be argued that the patient
reports and files are just as important as the prescriptions written for the patients. Without the
patient reports and files, the psychiatrist would not be up to date on the patients condition,
symptoms, or progress. If a psychiatrist (or any doctor for that matter) does not have a patients
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file, they may as well be seeing that individual for the first time. I interviewed my old
psychiatrist over the phone a few days ago, and when I asked him about patient files this is what
he said to me. You need to constantly study your patient files if you want to be able to provide
them with the care that they deserve and need. Without them, youre blind to their situation and
cannot treat them effectively (Giardina). These patient files have to be professional, organized,
and up-to-date. Because of this, there cannot be spelling errors, poorly written sentences, or
incomplete information. These files must be professionally written and properly organized to
ensure effectiveness. The audience for these patient files is typically the psychiatrist(s) who is
(are) working with a particular patient. These files might also be seen by individuals such as an
attorney if such a circumstance arises. Because of the importance of these files, they cannot be
anything but what I have stated above, and it is crucial for the patients successes in treatment
that they are completed properly. When an individual is studying to become a psychiatrist, they
must learn how to write these patient files precisely, and are given strict guidelines to follow so
that abstract, introduction, patient identification and reason for referral, assessment strategies,
clinical case formulation, treatments, study design, data analysis, effectiveness and efficiency of
the intervention, and discussion (Virues-Ortega; Moreno-Rodriguez 1) are all included in the
The final genre of writing that I will discuss in the field of clinical psychiatry is that of
writing research articles for medical journals, websites, or for universities. Clinical psychiatrists,
just like any other type of doctor, are researching new ideas constantly. It is their job to write
about the research that they conduct so that other individuals in the same field (or any other field
for that matter) can utilize that new research and apply it to the treatment of patients. There are
literally thousands of various medical journals across the world and they all contain new
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information written into research articles by the individuals who conducted the research., It is
crucial that medical practitioners of any kind stay up-to-date with the research in their respective
fields so that they can provide the best care for their patients. These medical journals and
research articles are the driving force behind the advancement of medicine, and without them our
knowledge would not be as extensive or fast-growing. These journals or research articles are
expected to be written in the same way that a graduate thesis would be written. They are
expected to be intelligently worded, with no spelling or grammatical errors being present. The
audience for these particular works of writing is usually other doctors or individuals involved in
the field of psychology, but are also commonly read by college students or any individual with
an interest in psychology. The articles are written with the intent to spread knowledge and inform
people of the most up-to-date information regarding psychology. Some articles are summaries of
experiments, while other can be research oriented, discussion based, or simply an explanation of
an experience. All of this is ultimately dependant on who is writing the article and what their
purpose behind writing it may be. To emphasize the points that I have just made regarding
research articles, I found a great article that was published online about a study that was done on
patients and what they thought about psychiatric wards. This article was designed to obtain
information and opinions about psychiatric wards from the patient (Klett et al 1). I chose this
specific article to use because it was different than what most people probably assume a
psychologist would write about. It was very informative and interesting to read because instead
of it just providing a psychologists opinion, it focuses on the patients and what they perceive.
Writing is everywhere. It is unavoidable, and is a fundamental skill that requires mastery
in almost every aspect of life. Whether you are a manager of a restaurant, a schoolteacher, a
mechanic, or a psychiatrist, you need to be able to write effectively. Without writing, the human
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race would be nowhere. We would be ages behind on technology, learning, and communicating.
Writing is an important tool that we as humans use to convey information and ideas to
individuals who we may not even ever meet. Because of writing, we are able to share our ideas
with people all the way across the world with ease, and it is because of this that we have come
this far as a civilization. It may not be a very obvious aspect of the field of clinical psychiatrist;
however it is actually one of the most important parts of the job. A psychiatrist would not be able
to effectively treat any of their patients without the use of writing prescriptions, patient reports,
and research articles. It is important to consider how much writing effects each and every one of
our lives and to recognize its importance. I can say with confidence that after researching for this
project and understanding just how much writing goes into a career that I thought was all talking
to people, I am more focused and driven to master my own writing skills to further ensure my
success in the future. I believe that Dr. Giardina said it best: Without writing, I wouldnt have a
job. I have to write every day and I know that my patients success is determined by my own
writing abilities (Giardina).

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Works Cited
Klett, Shirley L., et al. "Patient Evaluation of the Psychiatric Ward." Journal of clinical
psychology 19.3 (1963): 347-51. Print.
McGuinness, Kevin. "The Prescribing Clinical Health Psychologist: A Hybrid Skill Set in the
New Era of Integrated Healthcare." Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical
Settings 19.4 (2012): 434-40. Print.
Sechrest, Lee, and James A. Coan. "Preparing Psychologist to Prescribe." Journal of clinical
psychology 58.6 (2002): 649-58. Print.
Virus-Ortega, Javier, and Rafael Moreno-Rodrguez. "Guidelines for Clinical Case Reports in
Behavioral Clinical Psychology." International Journal of Clinical Health &
Psychology 8.3 (2008): 765-77. Print.
Giardina, John. Personal interview. 21 July 2014

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Interview Notes
Me: Do you ever have to write as a clinical psychiatrist and if so, what kinds of writing do
you have to do?
Giardina: I need to write every day in my field. Daily writing includes mostly prescriptions
and updating patient files, but occasionally I will write articles for magazines or
psychiatry websites.
Me: How often would you say that you have to write a research article?
Giardina: Not as often as one might think actually. You really only need to write a research
article if you discover something new or have the urge to publish some findings or
thoughts. I would say that I tipically write around half a dozen of them a year, but
most are not published in a large journal.
Me: How important is writing in the field of clinical psychiatry?
Giardina: It is vital. Without writing, I wouldnt have a job. I have to write every day and I
know that my patients success is determined by my own writing abilities.

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