Category: Community

Posts by Jano Klimas about community, collaboration, charity and social welfare.

How Do We Make Tracks? Meeting of The Society for Technical Communication

January 31, 2015– The STC Canada West Coast chapter hosted a day for technical communicators, both new and those more seasoned, which included tips for finding writing jobs, successful grant proposals, benefits of career coaching and many more. In this post, I focus on two sessions that I attended about mistakes made by non-native users of English and informational interviews.
“Everybody makes mistakes; non-native users just add one more layer to the mistakes ecosystem.” Matsuno
Non-native users of English: who they are
Mark Matsuno is a technical writer with more than 12 years of experience as a technical translator specializing in Japanese-to-English translations of engineering and manufacturing documents.
 Despite the disadvantage inherent in being born in a non-English speaking country, the Non-native users of English have much strength. They are SMEs, i.e., subject matter experts. Her engineering-ese is her first language. His accent is terrible, but he writes almost flawlessly. Some cultures may be afraid of speaking, but may be great writers. Their fluency equals how well you they trick someone to think that they’re fluent
Lost in translation
There’s nothing really wrong with their writing, but it sounds awkward. The questions are how much energy do you put into the piece as an editor? How do you see yourself? As a champion of the end user; A defender of the English language; A teacher; someone trying to get on top of their workload
Common mistakes in non-native users of English
Adjective order; Plurals; Articles are something that gives Asian people a lot of problems;
Prepositions; Tense; Direct translation; Dated English (for example, I was once stung by a bumble-bee); Mixed formality.
How to stay sane
Learn another language. In Japanese you can improve quickly, because people in Japan laugh at you; the feedback on errors is instant. Use machine translations. Read plenty of well-written English.
Write lots. Engage in English conversation.
Informational interviews and networking
Wendy Hollingshead and Autumn Jonssen discussed how powerful networking and informational interviews job search tools can be.
Network. Become a member of writing organisations. Meet up. Decide what your industry of interest is and go to the industry specific events. Volunteer; get your email and your work out there. Not just random things but more focussed work that will help your career and the organisation that you volunteer for. Your goal for networking events should be to make at least one quality conversation and one quality connection. Do at least one event p/week. The more work you put in, the better results you’re going to get.
101 Informational interviews: Let them know your goal
The informational interviews can help you to figure out what you want. Find out how your interviewees got to where they are and get some advice from them. A good output from an II is a referral to someone who can bring you closer to your dream job. Always send a thank you note after the interview.

Finally, check out Michelle Vinci’s article on the STC website about using social media for your jobsearch: http://stcwestcoast.ca/chapter/using-social-media-for-your-job-search

New paper out now: Alcohol Screening among Opioid Agonist Patients in a Primary Care Clinic and an Opioid Treatment Program

February 25th: Drinking in people who also use other illicit drugs causes serious problems. Their doctors and health professionals can ask about alcohol, provide advice or refer the person to a specialist if the problem is too big. We had a look into medical notes of 200 people screened for an alcohol use disorder in a primary care clinic and another 200 people screened in an opioid treatment program over a two year period.
Chart reviews suggested that most people with opioid dependence (95%) seen in a federally qualified health center completed a routine annual alcohol screening; elevated scores in the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test were recorded for six people (3% of those screened) and brief interventions were completed with five of those people. 
 “When you know of … people who are using heroin, there’s a chance they’re using it IV, and if they’re using IV there’s a chance they’re accessing blood …, so if there’s people we have coming with Hep C that have been drinking there’s a whole other level of medical risk associated and it’s hard to stabilize anyone, so people are coming in ill or they have other doctors’ appointments or they’re just not physically able to engage in programs.” Physicians worried about opening up this complex issue and felt the system was not prepared.
The methadone program, in comparison, diagnosed alcohol abuse or dependence at admission in 27% (n = 54) of the patient records reviewed. People treated in the methadone program appeared to have higher rates of serious alcohol use disorders than those who received buprenorphine in the primary care clinic:
“It’s a lot easier to fly under the radar with alcohol than with other drugs.” Focus group participants recognized limitations of screening.
Practitioner focus groups were completed in the with four primary care physicians and eleven counsellors from the opioid treatment program to assess experience with and attitudes towards screening opioid agonist people for alcohol use disorders.
Focus groups suggested organizational, structural, provider, patient and community variables hindered or fostered alcohol screening. 
A primary care physician noted, “When people are in the more severe category and you run out of time and you can hand them a list of AA meetings around the town, but it’s just so unlikely that they are going to access it if they haven’t already. That warm hand off process is huge.”
Alcohol screening is feasible among opioid agonist people:
“Having a consistent way that we treat specific conditions, like alcoholism with this background and this level of care would be great. So that we can develop patterns and know how to treat them as they go.”
Effective implementation, however, requires physician training and systematic changes in workflow.
  A counselor stated, “Engagement is key; how we treat our patient has a lot to do with what they tell us, so if the people feel not judged, if they feel safe, they’re going to be more likely to engage in the treatment process.”

To read the full article, go to the website of the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02791072.2014.991859#abstract

Writing Battle and New Year’s Social Night

January 29, inspired by Vancouver’s popular ‘Art Battle’, Vancouver writers kick started the year with the first ‘Writing Battle’, a chance for one writer to emerge victorious from a live writing competition.

 
 
Even if you’re not competing, this was a fantastic chance to socialize and meet other writers in a relaxed and fun-filled environment of the Railway Club.  

Ten bold and versatile writers competed live at the Railway club, and of course, were also supported by 20 others in the audience who chose the winner of the night, John Friesen.
 
 
The contestants were writing from writing prompts and the winner got a small prize, as well as the chance to share one of his pieces on a weekly radio show on Co-op Radio, Writing Life.
 



Over 600 members of the Vancouver Writers Group describe themselves as people who live in Greater Vancouver and love to write. We share our work, challenge and encourage each other, and read from our own writings to our fellow members. We argue over commas and colons, whether words in other languages should be translated or not, all things poetry, and anything else that happens to have words in it.

We usually have a few different meetings every month, mostly in coffee-shops around town, where we do writing activities and have discussions about different writing topics. Quite often we have social nights at a bar in Vancouver, and occasionally we hold writing competitions and one-off events. We welcome writers at all levels, whether you are just starting on your first story or are already published.

We also have a weekly radio show on Co-op Radio, Writing Life, which is live on Vancouver 100.5 FM on Tuesdays between 2pm and 2.30pm. Earlier editions of the show can be found here. 

http://www.coopradio.org/station/archives/39914

Doctors sweat to discover traditions of the first nations

Many doctors see addiction as a disease of body only. If overdone, this view can lead to medicalization of addiction. Some may argue that the latest research proves addiction as a chronic brain disease. This view is supported by brain scans of people who used drugs compared to people who didn’t. The scans show a loss of dopamine neurons after heavy methamphetamine use. Although brain’s plasticity allows it to recover, we don’t know how much of this loss is permanent.

While brain researchers may not mean to reduce addiction to a purely medical condition, its psychological, social and spiritual facets get sometimes overlooked. Not only medical students do not get enough education on addiction, what they get is often focused on the biological aspect.

To bridge this gap, in June 2014, a group of eight medical doctors (five doctors in training and three staff) from Canada went on a three day journey to a remote First Nations (i.e. American Indian) community to hear stories of recovery and participate in traditional healing techniques. After the trip, the Director of their addiction training programme (www.addictionmedicinefellowship.org), analysed the group’s experiences using qualitative research techniques and presented* the narratives at conference of the Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse.

People from the First Nations reservation shared their experience with the power of spiritual recovery tools – sweat lodges (see Figure 1), community round ups, connection to heritage, family support, and elder-guided self-reflection: “…learning came through creating bonds of friendship with people at Alkali Lake. It was through these bonds that the human face…emerge[d] and the real learning started to happen.”

Figure 1. Sweat lodge (photocredit: fellowship archive)

First Nations communities are over-represented among people with substance use disorders in Canada. Having little sense of cultural competency, clinicians can become discouraged when faced with the suffering and despair of those with substance use disorders: “…the most valuable lesson [of the field trip] was in deepening the understanding that the most effective way of being an addiction physician is by humbling ourselves, relinquishing our titles as doctors and getting to know the person behind the addiction.”

The Director encouraged programmes to “find a local community that has tackled the programme and go out to do a field trip and learn from the community members.”

 

*Text first published at a registration-restricted website: https://www.mariecuriealumni.eu/news/doctors-sweat-discover-traditions-first-nations

Story based on a poster presented at the AMERSA conference November 5th, 2014: Lighting the ember of hope: Integrating field experience and narrative techniques into Addiction Medicine Fellowship training. By Launette Rieb (a,b), MD, MSc, CCFP, FCFP, dip. ABAM; Nitasha Puria (b), MD, CCFP; Marcia Thomson (a), MSc; and Evan Wood (a,c) MD, PhD, ABIM, FRCPC, dip. ABAM

 

Author affiliations:
a)St. Paul’s Hospital Goldcorp Addiction Medicine Fellowship, Vancouver, B.C., Canada. b)Department of Family Practice, and c)Division of HIV/AIDS, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Canada

Association’s for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse mission is to improve health and well-being through interdisciplinary leadership in substance use education, research, clinical care and policy. Text taken from www.amersa.org
Clinical addiction medicine training is a multidisciplinary addiction medicine fellowship that strives for excellence in clinical training, scholarship, research and advocacy and involves medical education to trainees from Psychiatry, Internal Medicine, Family Medicine and Nursing. For more details, click here.

Which talking therapies work for drug users with alcohol problems? A Cochrane update

Have you ever had an unresolved question and you kept asking again, again and again, until you got the answer? We wanted to find out whether talking therapies have an impact on alcohol problems in adult people who use illicit drugs (mainly opiates and stimulants), and which therapy is the best. We queried the scientific literature in 2012 and this year again.

Drinking above the recommended safe drinking limits can lead to serious alcohol problems or dependence. Excessive drinking in people who also have problems with other drugs is common and often makes these problems worse; their health deteriorates. Talking therapies may help people drink less but their impact in people who also have problems with other drugs is unknown. Talking treatments were the focus for an updated Cochrane review (Figure 1) published today (Dec 3).
Figure 1. Cochrane
We found four studies that included 594 people with drug problems. One study focused on the way people think and act, versus an approach based on Alcoholics Anonymous, aiming to motivate the person to develop a desire to stop using drugs or alcohol. One study looked at a practice that aimed to identify an alcohol problem and motivate the person to do something about it, versus usual treatment. One study looked at a counselling style for helping people to explore and resolve doubts about changing their behaviour (group and individual form), versus hepatitis health promotion. The last study looked at the same style versus assessment only.
In sum, the studies were so different that we could not combine their results to answer our question. As of June 2014, we still don’t know whether talking therapies affect drinking in people who have problems with both alcohol and other drugs because of the low quality of the evidence. We still don’t know whether talking therapies for drinking affect illicit drug use in people who have problems with both alcohol and other drugs. There was not enough information to compare different types of talking therapies. Many of the studies did not account for possible sources of bias. New clinical trials would help us to answer our question.
Citation example: Klimas J, Tobin H, Field C-A, O’Gorman CSM, Glynn LG, Keenan E, Saunders J, Bury G, Dunne C, Cullen W. Psychosocial interventions to reduce alcohol consumption in concurrent problem alcohol and illicit drug users. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2014 , Issue 11 . Art. No.: CD009269. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD009269.pub3/abstract

Cochrane is a global independent network of health practitioners, researchers, patient advocates and others, responding to the challenge of making the vast amounts of evidence generated through research useful for informing decisions about health. Read more at www.cochrane.org