Doctor's discourse community

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Posted on 08 Mar 2013 02:58

In analyzing a medical chart, I decided to discuss a doctor’s discourse community by Swales’ definition. Swales defines a discourse community to have 6 specific characteristics. I want to discuss one specific discourse community that is very important, doctors. Doctors need to be a discourse community in order for them to function together and help save people.
Swales' first characteristic of a discourse community is having an agreed upon set of common goals. Doctors have a few common goals. The first is obviously saving people's lives. They wrestle everyday with making sure people can live to see the next day. It is illegal to not have this goal and the ones that do go against it either get malpractice lawsuits or go to jail. Another goal for the doctor is not necessarily making sure people do not die, but making sure that they are not harmed while trying to treat them. This again could lead to a malpractice suit, which shows that doctors must uphold this goal.
Doctors have many types of mechanisms of intercommunication between each other. For example, each doctor has a pager that he uses to communicate with one another. Even though there are smartphones now, doctors still use pagers to contact one another easily.
A type of genre that doctors use is medical charts so that they can tell one another what has been given to the patient and what still needs to be done. It helps to make sure that the doctor on the next shift knows what the deal is with the patient and making sure that the doctor does not have to be there twenty four hours a day taking care of the same patient. It is used to relay information between the doctors.
Within these medical documents, doctors have formed some sort of shorthand or language that can only be understood by doctors or nurses and is used to communicate faster and easier between them. Their Lexis might look something like i, ii, iii, or iiii (number of doses) or po (take orally). This would only be understood by the people that need to read it because that who it is meant for.
There is definitely a qualification for doctors that they must pass a certain threshold to become a doctor. First, they must get into medical school. Then they have to do four years of medical school, which from what I hear is very difficult and demanding. Afterwards, they have to intern at a hospital for a year so that they can learn the ins and outs of the place. This is also difficult because the older doctors are very demanding of the interns and expect a lot from them. Once and a person goes through all these processes then he becomes a doctor. At this point it is possible to say that he has enough expertise to practice medicine and keep working as a doctor.
As shown, there are clearly many things a doctor must know and do to be a part of this discourse community. He has to learn the ins and outs of the hospital and how everything functions. According to all this, Doctors are clearly part of a discourse community according to Swales.

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