February 2024 - Khaira Education
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February 26, 2024

At Khaira Education in Mohali, India, we understand that acing the OET Writing test involves the art of transforming medical case notes into formal referral letters. This not only involves selecting relevant information but also articulating it using the appropriate tenses and voices, ensuring the communication is precise and clear. This blog post delves into the essential skills of tense accuracy and voice selection, integral components of the OET writing sub-test.

Tense Accuracy in OET Writing:

Correctly conveying the timeline of the patient’s condition or treatment is paramount and hinges on the proper use of tenses.

Your ability to choose the correct tense can make a significant difference in the OET referral letters. Classes at Khaira Education emphasise this skill, ensuring that each student can accurately reflect a patient’s medical timeline.

Let’s understand this with an example:

Case Note: “Patient counseled on smoking cessation, May 2021.”
Now let’s see how incorrect tense usage can lead to confusion about patient’s care.

1.Present Continuous (Incorrect Tense)

•Incorrect: “The patient is currently being counseled to stop smoking since May 2021.”
•This suggests that the counseling is an ongoing process that started in May 2021 and is still happening, which may not be the case.

2.Present Perfect (Incorrect Tense)

•Incorrect: “The patient has been counseled to stop smoking since May 2021.”
This implies the counseling started in May 2021 and has continued up to the present, possibly leading the recipient to believe the patient still requires support.

3.Past Perfect (Incorrect Tense)

•Incorrect: “The patient had been counseled to stop smoking by May 2021.”

•This could be misunderstood to mean that the counseling was completed before May 2021, which may not align with the actual timeline.

4.Past Continuous (Incorrect Tense)

•Incorrect: “The patient was being counseled to stop smoking in May 2021.”
•This indicates that the counseling was an ongoing action specifically during the time of May 2021, which might confuse the recipient about whether the counseling was a single event or a series of sessions.

5.Simple Past (Correct Tense)

•Correct: “The patient was counseled on smoking cessation in May 2021.”

•This clearly communicates that the counseling occurred as a discrete event in the past, which accurately reflects the action without implying any continuation or repetition.

Incorrect tense usage can lead to significant confusion about the status of a patient’s care. For instance, in the example we read above, using the present continuous or present perfect tenses incorrectly suggests ongoing counseling, which may lead the recipient of the letter to question whether further interventions are necessary or if the patient is non-compliant. Conversely, the past perfect tense might suggest that the counseling is no longer relevant, potentially causing the recipient to overlook this aspect of the patient’s care history. The simple past tense conveys a clear, unambiguous message about the patient’s care, ensuring that the recipient has an accurate understanding of the patient’s medical history and current needs.

Let’s see more examples:

Case Note: “Diabetes management initiated 2018, insulin-dependent.”

Incorrect: “The patient was starting to manage diabetes in 2018 and was dependent on insulin.”
Correct: “The patient initiated diabetes management in 2018 and has been insulin-dependent since then.”

The incorrect example suggests an ongoing action (‘was starting’) which does not accurately reflect the completed action of initiating diabetes treatment. The correct sentence uses the past simple tense for the initial action and the present perfect to indicate the continuing state of insulin dependence.

Case Note: “Appendectomy performed, 2019.”

•Incorrect: “The patient had got an appendectomy in 2019.”
•Correct: “The patient underwent an appendectomy in 2019.”

•” Had got” is a grammatically incorrect and unclear way to express the past action. “Underwent” is the correct past tense verb for this medical procedure

Voice Selection and Its Impact:

Khaira Education’s OET coaching in Mohali includes comprehensive OET training on when to use active or passive voice, focusing on effectively highlighting either the patient’s actions or the medical procedures they undergo.

Choosing between active and passive voice should align with the focus of the information being conveyed.

Let’s see an example below:

Case Note: “Recommend physiotherapy for post-stroke rehabilitation.”
Less suitable (Active): “I recommend the patient to undergo physiotherapy for post-stroke rehabilitation.”
More suitable (Passive): “Physiotherapy is recommended for the patient’s post-stroke rehabilitation.”

The active voice unnecessarily centers the healthcare provider with ‘I recommend,’ which is not the focus in this context. The passive sentence uses emphasises the recommended action for the patient’s benefit, making it a more suitable alternative being patient centred.

Let’s put this into practice

Case Note: “Appendectomy performed May 2021, uneventful recovery.”
See the above note and choose which of the following accurately transforms it.

“The patient had an appendectomy done last May and recovered without any events.”
“ The patient underwent an appendectomy in May 2021 and experienced an uneventful recovery.”

Answer: The second option is correct. ‘Had done’ is ambiguous and ‘without events’ is an incorrect phrase; ‘uneventful recovery’ is a standard term in medical communication. The second sentence clearly states both the time of surgery and the nature of recovery.

See another note and then choose which option coverts it correctly.

Case Note: “Patient to reduce weight, BMI 30.”

“The patient is needed to reduce weight, having a BMI of 30.”
“The patient has been advised to reduce weight due to a BMI of 30.”

Answer: The second sentence is correct. The first version awkwardly uses ‘is needed’ and presents ‘having’ out of context. The correct sentence properly uses the present perfect passive to indicate ongoing advice due to the patient’s current BMI.

Case Note: “Smoking cessation advised 2021.”

See the above case note and decide which of the following coverts it accurately.
•“The patient stopped smoking since 2021.”
•“The patient was advised to cease smoking in 2021.”

Answer: The second sentence is correct. The first sentence incorrectly suggests that the patient has already stopped smoking, while the correct sentence clearly states the advice given.

Practice Tips:

Time Matters: Match tenses with the timing of the patient’s medical events.
Subject-Action Alignment: Choose active or passive voice based on whether the subject or action should be emphasized.

Clarity is Crucial: Every sentence should convey its intended meaning unambiguously and succinctly.

Khaira Education’s commitment to excellence is reflected in the meticulous approach to OET training, where understanding the nuances of English usage is balanced with the demands of professional medical communication. Thus, Khaira Education does not just prepare candidates for a test; it prepares them for a future where their words can shape patient outcomes and build professional relationships Asia’s first Premium Preparation Provider, Khaira Education, empowers aspiring healthcare practitioners with expertly crafted OET lessons to navigate the OET successfully.


February 1, 2024

Master the art of beginning a role play with our expert guide. Learn how to set a positive tone, establish rapport, and demonstrate competence in OET Speaking tests for healthcare professionals.

Mastering the Art of Starting a Role Play in Healthcare Communication

Starting a role play effectively is pivotal in demonstrating your communication skills as a healthcare professional. The initial interaction not only sets the tone for the entire exchange but also significantly influences your perceived competence, empathy, and politeness. Creating a comfortable and respectful environment is essential for building a strong foundation in clinical communication, a critical aspect of the OET Speaking sub-test.

Preparing for a Successful Role Play

Tailoring Your Introduction
Understanding the context is key. Your opening remarks should be appropriate, considering your familiarity with the patient. Professionalism, courtesy, and empathy must be evident from the start to make the patient feel valued.

The Impact of a Strong Opening

A confident beginning to the 5-minute role play enhances authenticity and relaxes you, allowing your English skills to shine. This approach is corroborated by successful OET Speaking candidates, who noted the realism and positive impact on their performance.

Flexibility in Communication

Adapt your language to mirror a genuine conversation, adjusting for different scenarios. The decision to introduce yourself should be informed by the role-play card’s context. If it’s a first meeting, begin with introductions. Otherwise, delve directly into the consultation.

Enhancing Patient Engagement

Addressing Patients and Relatives
Your approach should vary based on whether you’ve previously met. In emergencies, prioritize concise communication. Using the patient’s first name fosters a connection, but always ask older patients for permission, showing respect.

Proceeding After Initial Examination

If the role play follows an examination, skip introductions and express gratitude for their cooperation, moving smoothly into the consultation phase.

Key Takeaways for OET Speaking Role Play Success

This guide is designed to refine your speaking role play strategy, emphasizing the importance of a well-executed start. By focusing on patient-centered communication, you can build confidence and ensure a successful interaction in your OET Speaking test. analyse for keywords

Implementing What You’ve Learned: Role Play Scenarios in Healthcare Communication

Now that we’ve covered the essentials of starting a role play in healthcare communication, let’s put your knowledge into practice with some exercises. These scenarios are designed to reflect real-life situations you might encounter in a healthcare setting, helping you prepare for the OET Speaking sub-test effectively.

Scenario 1: Hospital Ward

Nurse: You are speaking to a 58-year-old patient who recently underwent an appendectomy. The patient has reported feeling unwell. You’ve just finished conducting a post-operative assessment.

Task: Share the assessment findings with the patient (signs of an infection at the surgical site). Discuss steps for management and care.

Question: How will you initiate this role-play?

A) Good morning, Patricia. I’m Nurse Tina, and I’ll be taking care of you. What seems to be the problem today?

B) Patricia, thank you for letting me examine you. I’ve noticed some indicators of infection at the surgery site, but it’s good we caught it early. Let’s go over the treatment plan to get you healed up.

C) Hello Patricia, I am your nurse for today. I understand you’re feeling unwell after the surgery. Can you describe your symptoms?

D) Hello, I’m Nurse Tina. I have come here to check up on you. Before I proceed further, may I confirm your full name?

Scenario 2: Outpatient Clinic

Doctor: This 52-year-old patient is seeing you today to talk about their symptoms of fatigue and weight gain. You have finished examining the patient. The symptoms are suggestive of type 2 diabetes.

Task: Give the findings of your assessment (indicative of type 2 diabetes, further tests required to confirm the diagnosis).

Question: How will you initiate this role-play?

A) Hello Sam. I am Dr. Carter, your endocrinologist. What brings you here today?

B) Sam, Thank you for your patience. Let’s discuss what the findings indicate and consider our options moving forward.

C) Hello Sam, I am your doctor looking after you today. I see that you have come here with complaints of fatigue and weight loss. Is that correct?

D) Hello, My name is Dr. Carter and I’ll be looking after you today. How may I address you?

Moving Forward

Practicing these scenarios will help you refine your approach to healthcare communication, ensuring you’re well-prepared for the OET Speaking sub-test. For more exercises, insights, and in-depth guidance, check out our suite of courses here: https://khairaeducation.com/oet-course-details/

By focusing on patient-centered communication, you can build confidence and ensure a successful interaction in your OET Speaking test. Remember, the key to success in healthcare communication is not just about medical knowledge but also how effectively you can engage with patients, establishing rapport and trust from the very beginning.