Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


ACOM108 Communicating as a Health Professional 1

Teaching organisation

Education Pathways

Unit rationale, description and aim

Having an understanding of body systems and disease processes is important in supporting student success in undergraduate studies in Health Sciences. Complementary to this, is promoting effective and accurate clinical communication which is essential to studying and working in the health professions and to respecting the dignity of the human person. This unit is designed to extend students’ learning from ACOM108 Communicating as a Health Professional 1.

In this unit, students will build on and integrate the knowledge of medical terminology and understanding of body systems, disease processes and health behaviours that were developed in ACOM108 Communicating as a Health Professional 1.  Appropriate language constructions and styles for communication with health professional peers and clients will be explored. Students will work both independently and in small groups, and be encouraged to develop critical thinking skills. 

The aim of this unit is to consolidate and further develop the communication skills students will need as a health practitioner in a variety of settings by expanding health related language and communication skills, in particular students’ oral communication skills with clients and their relatives.

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 - Explain disease processes and health behaviours associated with the body systems (GA9)

LO2 - Comprehend and use a range of common medical terminology in a health care context (GA1, GA9)

LO3 - Synthesise relevant health related information from written and auditory material (GA8, GA9)

LO4 - Communicate accurately and appropriately with colleagues and clients in health-related settings (GA1, GA5, GA8, GA9)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - Demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA5 - Think critically and reflectively

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

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


Topics will include: 


Language and terminology 

  • The language of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease 
  • Emergency situations and response  
  • Common health issues related to the blood and lymphatic system  
  • The cardiovascular system: disorders and health behaviours 
  • The gastrointestinal system: disorders and health behaviours 
  • The respiratory system: disorders and health behaviours 
  • The urinary tract: disorders and health behaviours 
  • The endocrine system: disorders and health behaviours 
  • Reproductive systems: disorders and health behaviours  
  • The nervous system: disorders and health behaviours  
  • Abbreviations, euphemisms, acronyms  
  • Pronunciation of key terms 

Communicating with clients and health practitioners 

  • Listening, attending and responding 
  • Beginning, continuing and ending interviews 
  • Dealing with emergencies 
  • Engaging with clients – interpersonal communication 
  • Discussing sensitive issues 
  • Handovers 
  • Documentation 
  • Self and peer assessment of communication skills 

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 and language, and to provide practice for selecting and transmitting relevant information. There will be peer and small-group learning to support the understanding of content and the development of communicative competence. Workshop activities include scaffolding tasks for the assessments, such as patient summary writing analysis and practice and a prepared version of the impromptu role play. 

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.

The tasks have been selected and designed to assist in preparing students for the assessment requirements of their undergraduate studies in health sciences, and to build on knowledge and skills acquired in semester one. The purpose of the assessments is to assess students’ communicative competence and their handling of content and discipline-specific language.

The Patient Summary Writing assesses students’ ability to accurately identify and synthesis relevant health content, skills important in their further studies and in the health professions. The role play allows students to demonstrate their level of communicative competence, and their use of discipline specific language, in a spontaneous exchange and information hand over. An exam is included as this unit as it is essential to assess accuracy and competence in listening and reading,  and in the application of medical terminology, within time restrictions that may mirror those in other educational or professional settings.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Writing test – Patient Summary.    

The writing summary allows students to demonstrate their ability to write clearly and accurately in the genre of a clinical summary. It is scheduled first as it builds on knowledge and skills from Semester 1, but is based on more challenging content and requires greater knowledge and understanding. 


LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA5, GA8, GA9 

Impromptu Role Play assessment 

The impromptu role play assesses students' oral communication skills and content knowledge in an unplanned, discipline-specific context. It assess their ability to communicate with clients and to succinctly and accurately transfer information to health-professionals. As it demands confidence in content knowledge and communicative competence, it is scheduled later in the semester. 


LO2, LO4

GA1, GA5, GA8, GA9 

Final Exam

The exam allows students to demonstrate their ability to apply the knowledge and skills learned in the unit by accurately identifying health related terms and information, and understanding language appropriate to context. It is comprised of four sections: Listening and note-taking, vocabulary and knowledge, reading discipline-related texts, and writing on health-related topics.

The exam allows requires students to demonstrate their ability to apply the knowledge and skills learned in the unit in an independent setting.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, 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. 

Have a question?

We're available 9am–5pm AEDT,
Monday to Friday

If you’ve got a question, our AskACU team has you covered. You can search FAQs, text us, email, live chat, call – whatever works for you.

Live chat with us now

Chat to our team for real-time
answers to your questions.

Launch live chat

Visit our FAQs page

Find answers to some commonly
asked questions.

See our FAQs