Newswise — A self-important writer once accused his editor of “dumbing down” a feature story by substituting a simpler, more economical word for one best reserved for a Rhodes Scholar's spelling bee. Informed that the vast majority of readers might not know his chosen word’s meaning, he snorted: “They can look it up in the dictionary.” The editor pointed out that the dictionary was certainly far more interesting and better written than the writer's work, sharing his doubts that those sent to “look it up” would ever return. Ahem.

With all of the acronyms we throw around in nursing (URI, CVSICU, HCV, HIPAA, UTI, etc.), it’s difficult enough to keep the narrative flowing without tossing around 50-cent words. (And just so you don’t have to look them up, that’s upper respiratory infection, cardiovascular surgical intensive care unit, hepatitis C virus, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and urinary tract infection, etc.) Nursing is its own colorful language.

So what do we do about newbies to the profession who don’t yet know their ACLS's (advanced cardiac life support) from their elbows? Or the patients we serve, especially those who not only don’t speak nurse but do not speak English? Whenever we can, we should speak and write simply and plainly. When we cannot, we should provide translation.

And that’s really what the Spring 2015 issue of Johns Hopkins Nursing is all about. We’ve got a report on what the fairly vague expression “big data” really looks like in practice (“Big Data’s Bottom Line”) and a Spanish class for nurses who could one day bridge gaps at the bedside (“Welcome Words”). There are PhD grads showing new students the ropes (“Been There, Done That”), and even a profile of a returned Peace Corps volunteer — that’s RPCV to us — eager to practice her Spanish in Guatemala who landed, instead, in the only predominantly English-speaking country in South America, with a local dialect all its own (“Key Word Is Flexibility”).

All of it translates to another informative, readable issue. Look it up.More from the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing

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