I've been writing guest articles for the Med City Beat, an independent news source that covers government, business, tourism, and culture in Rochester, Minnesota.
You might have heard that Mayo Clinic conducting an epic effort to convert its electronic health records system to the Epic platform. So what is Epic - is it a long poem narrating the deeds and adventures of heroic figures? Well, not exactly. Epic is software that hospitals and health systems use to access, organize, store, and share patient records. However, what I have heard of the conversion and training process sounds quite epic in nature.
One major challenge is to get the software installed at the various Mayo locations and the smaller satellite health systems throughout the country, and verify that it is working correctly. Another challenge is training employees in using the software. Hopefully, once the dust has settled, it will be much easier to share patient records across health systems.
You might wonder what it is like to be a deaf writer in a hearing world. When I first started working at IBM as a technical writing intern in upstate New York, one of my coworkers was deaf. She was an excellent writer and editor.
One highlight of my work day was sending and receiving emails from coworkers and customers. Some engineers preferred to communicate by email than face-to-face anyway. Also, email was the way to connect with engineers around the world and in different time zones. And a plus was that I had a record of my conversations with the engineers. Sometimes I met with the engineer in person and we wrote notes to each other. I also communicated with coworkers using instant messaging apps and video conferencing software. For meetings and classes, I used interpreters or remote captioning services.
Recently, I earned a certificate in medical writing and editing from the University of Chicago. All of my classes except one were online. I really enjoyed communicating with my classmates via the online forums and posted my homework assignments online. When we met for live sessions, I used a captioning service. I also was able to insert questions and comments via the chat box.
Recently, I was asked to copyedit a highly technical article about establishing benchmarks for nuclear reactors that a non-English speaking scientist had written. I was wondering how I would approach this task when I don’t know anything about nuclear physics. Do I take a crash course in nuclear physics and visit the reactor site? Well, if I am to rewrite the article for the public or in less technical terms, it is helpful to know the basics of nuclear physics and work with the scientist to ensure that I accurately convey the information.
However, if I am copyediting the article, I do NOT need to know anything about nuclear physics. Instead, I would correct the grammar, and ensure that the author follows the corporate style guide and that the author uses the technical terms consistently. I also would verify the references and that the figures in the tables and graphs match the text.
So how would you approach copyediting difficult or technical material?