Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

To be successful in your studies in the health disciplines, you will need to develop effective health-specific English language communication skills which are founded on a basic knowledge of medical terminology and an understanding of selected body systems and their associated disease processes. In this unit, you will explore the language of medicine, appropriate communication with clients and their relatives in verbal and written form, and issues in the health professions. You will be introduced to problem solving, and emphasis will be placed on working independently and on building confidence. The aim of this unit is to help you develop the communication skills you will need as a health practitioner in a variety of settings by introducing you to health related language and information.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

 LO1 - Define common medical terminology and describe selected body systems in a health care context. [GA9] 

 LO2 - Explain the processes and behaviours associated with common health issues. [GA8, GA9] 

 LO3 - Identify and utilise relevant health-related information from written and auditory texts, and client information. [GA8, GA9] 

 LO4 - Use language and grammar appropriate to the health professions in oral and written communication. [GA9] 

Graduate attributes

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 


Topics will include: 



  • Introduction to terminology used in the health professions and as a health practitioner 
  • Introduction to selected body systems and related disease processes and health behaviours 
  • Introduction to colloquialisms used in a health profession context 
  • Introduction to abbreviations and affixes 
  • Pronunciation  


Communicating with Clients 

  • Listening and responding 
  • Beginning, continuing and ending interviews 
  • General conversation skills 
  • Posing questions 
  • Discussing health issues 
  • Non-verbal communication with clients 


Preparation for Professional Skills 

  • Reading health records and case notes 
  • Writing a patient or client summary 
  • Note-taking   

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit takes an active learning and enquiry-based approach in order to encourage problem solving, and to build the knowledge, confidence and communication skills required as a health professional when dealing with clients and other health professionals.  You will be provided with case studies to further explore content, interpretation of information, and discipline specific language and vocabulary. There will be peer and small-group learning to support the understanding of content and the development of communication skills. 


Mode/attendance pattern: Three face-to-face hours per week delivered in one 3-hour workshop. The purpose of this mode is to allow you to apply theory and content within the classroom setting, and to enable the facilitation of skills practice and development. In addition, it promotes an active learning environment with greater interaction. 


Duration: 12 week-semester or equivalent in intensive block mode. Students should anticipate undertaking 150 hours of study for this unit, including class attendance, readings and assignment preparation. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

Assessments are scaffolded with classroom learning activities and practice in order to support your understanding of content and to develop the knowledge and skills required to meet the learning outcomes. Communicating effectively as a health professional requires a knowledge of medical terminology as well as competence and intelligibility in your communication skills and use of health-specific language. For this reason, the schedule of assessment tasks includes the assessment of discipline-related reading, listening, speaking and writing.  

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Oral presentation   

The oral presentation is designed to assess your ability to identify relevant information, and to assess how you communicate in an oral context in a health science setting. It is the first assessment as it exposes you to a variety of health topics, and allows for the discussion of those topics with your class peers. It precedes the writing summary as it does not require the same language style or formality of the writing task, and supports the development and accurate pronunciation of common medical terminology from early in the semester.  


LO2, LO3, LO4 

GA8, GA9 

Writing assessment – Patient Summary.    

The patient summary is designed to assess your understanding of a discipline-specific writing genre, your ability to identify relevant and appropriate information, and focusses on the style, register and accuracy required for writing within the discipline. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4 

GA8, GA9 

Final Exam  

(Listening and note-taking, vocabulary and knowledge, reading discipline-related texts, writing on health-related topics) 

The exam allows you to demonstrate your ability to apply the knowledge and skills learned in the unit in an independent setting. 


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4 

GA8, GA9 

Representative texts and references

Cohen, B.J. (2017) Medical Terminology – An Illustrated Guide. (8th Ed.) Wolters Kluwer / Lippincott Williams and Wilkins: U.S. 

Mosby's E-Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing & Health Professions - Retail Version  8th Edition. 

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