My father, technical communication, hospitals, and my grandfather – What do they have in common?
As someone who is not currently working in the field of technical communication, I enjoyed the introduction of 21st Century Theory and Practice and the chapter by Saul Carliner. I enjoyed reading about the changes of the field that I aspire to join in the near future.
The field of technical communication has evolved so much during the past 25 years, because technical communication is such a computer-driven field. As I read through Chapter 1, I made a mental comparison of my father’s career path. The chapter reminded me of my father’s job, which I wrote about in my technology literacy narrative during the first week of class. A major influence on my technological upbringing, he started his job in 1986 with the job title of Data Processing Manager in one person department at a small school district in south central Kansas. Now in 2013, his job title is Director of Information Technology and he manages over 15 full-time employees who report to him on a daily basis. The reason his job changed, like technical communication, is because it had no choice. You can’t keep going to middle school if you have been promoted to 9th grade. The same is true for technology. You can’t keep using an outdated system when everyone else moves to the more advanced system. The only way technical communication could survive was to embrace every change it ever faced.
To connect the chapter with the introduction of the book, the opening page states only some 2% of hospitals have made the transition to digital (p. 1). I think it is unfair and unrealistic to think that gigantic operations, such as hospitals, can suddenly make the leap from paper to paperless in a matter of years. They were never expected to become digital until recently, unlike technical communication, so they did not take the technology tip and transition gradually. Hospitals have been doing business just like normal. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely think hospitals becoming paperless will be benefit the hospitals, insurance companies, and patients, I just don’t see it happening in the immediate future. According to Forbes in January 2013, only 1.8% of hospitals have an electronic record system in place. Many hospitals, according the article, are not ready and are asking for more time, despite the amount of money they have received to assist in their transition from paper to paperless. I worked at a very large hospital in the accounting department part-time while I was in college. The reason I got the job, in fact, was to help transition their invoice system to a streamlined digital process. The hospital was trying to use a new system, called GHX, and there were so many hiccups with the system that they extended my employment by an additional year.
I compare it to teaching my 80-year old grandfather to set up an email account and get a cellphone. It took YEARS for my family to convince him to set up an email account and use a cellphone. After he finally did, it took quite a while for him to be able to use his new technology correctly. Asking people to change from one habit to another, especially when they have been doing things the same for a long time, is unrealistic and requires a great deal of time.
To conclude, I am not surprised that technical communication has made so many leaps in the digital age. Such changes and adjustments are necessary for the continuation of the field. I hope to learn more about the programs and software I will be using when I start working in a technical communication field, but who knows if they will even be the same by that time!