Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Teaching organisation

Education Pathways

Unit rationale, description and aim

To be successful in undergraduate studies in health sciences, it is important that students develop effective health-specific language and communication skills. Knowledge of medical terminology and an understanding of selected body systems and their associated disease processes,  prepares students for clinical communication at undergraduate level.   

In this unit, students will be introduced to content and terminology related to health disease, appropriate communication with clients and their relatives in verbal and written form, and the work undertaken in different the health professions.  Students 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 students develop the communication skills they will need as a health practitioner in a variety of settings by introducing them 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 (GA5, GA9)

LO2 - Explain the processes and behaviours associated with common health issues (GA5, GA8, GA9)

LO3 - Communicate relevant health-related information using language and grammar appropriate to the health professions in oral and written contexts (GA5, GA9)

Graduate attributes

GA5 - Demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession

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  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. Students 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. 

Face-to-face mode 

This unit is delivered face-to-face on campus in a 3-hour weekly workshop. The workshop format is designed to allow students to explore content and language, and subsequently engage with content and apply skills in a classroom setting. It is aimed at maximising the students’ opportunities for interaction and communication with the tutor and with their peers, and provides practice and feedback on impromptu language use. Face-to-face mode is supported by online resources and activities available on the Learning Management System. 

Online Mode 

In online mode, a 3-hour synchronous weekly workshop is utilised. The workshop is broken up into sections, combining flipped classroom approaches (individual and group) with tutor-led activities and peer work. This promotes independent learning and online learning activities, but provides a supported online experience for offshore pathway students. The tutor-facilitated components would be dedicated to extending student understanding, more personalised learning and “hands-on” activities. The aim is to maximise the students’ opportunities for interaction and communication with the tutor and with their peers, and provides practice and feedback on impromptu language use. 


Assessment strategy and rationale

Assessment will be equitable for students undertaking either face-to-face or online classes. 

Assessments are scaffolded with classroom learning activities and practice in order to support students’ 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 students’ 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.

The presentation provides students with the opportunity to access and convey health-related content, and assesses their knowledge in a context requiring less academic formality given it is an early task in their first semester.  The Patient Summary requires students to demonstrate a greater understanding of content and terminology, and of the style and register of language in a health professional context. The exam is necessary to assess students’ health-specific language skills, in a timed and controlled setting.  This includes the receptive skills of listening and reading, as well as the basic terminology and discipline-specific writing that students must demonstrate independently in order to progress to  ACOM208 Communicating as a Health Professional 2. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Oral presentation   

The oral presentation is designed to assess students' ability to identify relevant information, and to assess how they communicate in an oral context in a health science setting. It is the first assessment as it exposes students to a variety of health topics, and allows for the discussion of those topics with 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.  


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA5, GA8, GA9

Writing assessment – Patient Summary.    

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


LO1, LO3

GA5, GA8, GA9

Final Exam  

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

The exam, in a timed and controlled setting, allows students to demonstrate their ability to apply the knowledge and skills learned in the unit.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA5, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Chabner, D. (2015). Medical terminology: a short course. (7th ed.). Elsevier. (accessible online though ACU Library Website) 

Chabner, D. (2018). Medical terminology: a short course. (8th ed.). Elsevier. (with adaptive technology) 

Cohen, B.J., Jones, S.A. (2020). Medical terminology: An illustrated guide (9th ed.). Jones and Bartlett. 

Mosby. (2016). Mosby’s pocket dictionary of medicine, nursing & health professions. Elsevier Health Sciences. (Available as an app) 

Walker, S., Wood, M., Nicol, J. (2017). Mastering medical terminology. (2nd Edition). Elsevier Australia.  

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