Towards improved healthcare communication: Development and validation of language proficiency standards for non-native English speaking health professionals.
The Language Testing Research Centre recently completed work on an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Grant, together with colleagues in the Medical Education Unit of the Melbourne Medical School and the Departments of Nursing in the School of Health Sciences. The industry partner was Cambridge Boxhill Language Assessment.
The project, entitled ‘Towards improved quality of written patient records: language proficiency standards for non-native speaking health professionals', aimed to establish the professionally relevant criteria for the Occupational English Test (OET) writing tests.The team extracted referral letters and discharge summaries from real patient records provided by two partner hospitals, one rural and one metropolitan. Health professionals then reviewed these documents and commented on the strengths and weaknesses in each document. Based on this data, indicators representing the values of the health professionals were extracted and a new rating scale for the writing sub-test of the OET developed. This scale was then trailed on language-trained OET raters. In a final phase, we also examined the passing standards on the writing sub-test. The final report has now been published.