ENGL 422

Writing for the Health and Human Sciences ENGL 42201

This overview of English 42201 (Writing for the Health and Human Sciences) provides core information about the course used by instructors to design their individual sections. It is primarily a resource for Purdue students, faculty, and academic advisors who have questions about the course in general. Questions about a specific section of the course should be directed to the individual instructor. English 42201 is not currently offered as an online course (ENGL 42201Y). Visitors and prospective students can read our Guide to Online Courses in Professional Writing to learn about Business and Technical Writing taught online. Write to the director and ask for an online section of 42201.

Course Background

English 42201, Writing for the Health and Human Sciences is a course offered by the Department of English every Fall and Spring semester. The course currently has three sections enrolled by students chiefly majoring in the areas of pharmacy, science, pre-vet, pre-med, and liberal arts. The course is taught by faculty and graduate teaching assistants in the Department of English.

Official Course Description

ENGL 42201 focuses on the rhetorical principles and writing practices necessary for producing effective charting, reports, policies, and educational materials in the context of the healthcare industry. All assignments in this course have been developed in collaboration with medical professionals and though no specific medical knowledge is required to take this course, the material presented will most benefit those pursuing a career in medicine. The curriculum is informed by current research in rhetoric and professional writing and is guided by the specific needs and practices in hospitals, clinics, extended care facilities, and home health agencies, as well as by the expectations of Purdue students and programs. Like other sections, ENGL 42201 is offered in networked computer classrooms to ensure that students taking the course are prepared for the writing environment of the high-technology medical workplace.

Course Goals

This course aims to improve your writing in three ways

1. By teaching you to use clear and unequivocal language, this course prepares you to communicate medical knowledge through writing without being misunderstood
2. By asking you to change your patterns of observation, this course asks you to think and write objectively about patients
3. By allowing you to practice medical style, this course familiarizes you with detail-oriented record-keeping

By the end of this semester, you should be familiar with

1. Best practices and procedures for documenting patient care, including the goals, language and legal ramifications of this writing form
2. Adapting medical language and requirements for a non-specialist audience to provide educational material for patients and their caregivers with an emphasis on strategies for dealing with different levels of comprehension and apprehension
3. Composing and delivering policies or new procedures to colleagues or co-workers, including in-services, grants, and office memos
4. Practical strategies for improving your resume, conduct, and online presence to get and keep a job in the healthcare industry

Writing in Context

Analyze professional cultures, social contexts, and audiences to determine how they shape the various purposes and forms of workplace writing, such as persuasion, organizational communication, and public discourse, with an emphasis on healthcare communications relating to both human and animal health.

Project Management

• understand, develop and deploy various strategies for planning, researching, drafting, revising, and editing documents both individually and collaboratively.
• select and use appropriate technologies that effectively and ethically address professional situations and audiences.
• build professional ethos through documentation and accountability.

Document Design

Make rhetorical design decisions about, including
• understanding and adapting to genre conventions and audience expectations
• understanding and implementing design principles of format and layout
• interpreting and arguing with design
• drafting, researching, testing, and revising visual designs and information architecture


Learn and apply strategies for successful teamwork and collaboration, such as
• working online with colleagues
• determining roles and responsibilities
• managing team conflicts constructively
• responding constructively to peers’ work
• soliciting and using peer feedback effectively
• achieving team goals
• writing in situations where legal and health concerns must be taken into account


Understand and use various research methods to produce professional documents, including
•analyzing professional contexts specifically in health- and medical- organizations
• locating, evaluating, and using print and online information selectively for particular audiences and purposes
• triangulating sources of evidence and working with healthcare professionals
• selecting appropriate primary research methods, such as interviews, observations, focus groups, and surveys to collect data
• working ethically with research participants


Use and evaluate the writing technologies frequently used in the workplace, such as:
• emailing, instant messaging,
• image editing, video editing,
• presentation design and delivery,
• HTML editing, Web browsing,
• content management, and desktop publishing technologies.