Touch typing- An essential skill for the modern paediatric trainee

Let me set the scene: a full tertiary neonatal unit under pressure to create space or an acute clinical case needing transfer to a more specialist unit, suddenly you have less than 20 minutes to provide a detailed summary of that neonate for the transport team and receiving hospital; shame the baby has been in the unit for the past 2 months, had a particularly stormy course since birth and nobody has updated the Badgernet! (a detailed neonatal discharge summary). It’s a heart sink moment. This is an all too familiar scenario that occurs almost daily in the busy unit I work in currently. Lucky one or two of my colleagues are super speedy at typing – skill they learnt early on and often bash out good quality summaries with the blink of an eye. Me – sadly, I’m stuck in the two finger mode.

A recent episode a few weeks ago, when the speedy typers were away on leave got me thinking – how much better would I be at time management and my job if I could type faster? How much of a paediatric trainees job is about discharge summaries, updating handover lists, typing up eportfoilio reflections, data entry for audit/QIs etc. If all trainees could type at lightening speed – would they not work more efficiently? Typing is both mentally and physically an exhausting task particularly if typing for long periods of time. Any potential health benefits? Less time hunched over a keyboard can only lead to good things for my posture and back, right? Particularly as I already spend so much time crouching down or on my knees to speak to my little patients.

With this in mind I set about looking into what it takes to be a speedy typist – can an old dog really learn new tricks?

An average computer typist will master speeds of around 41 wpm, a career typist can reach speeds in excess of 100 wpm. The fastest English writing typist had a 216 wpm speed (far, far greater than my 39 wpm average). A quick Google search brought up plenty of free online touch typing sites, from the more children orientated BBC site ‘Dance mat typing’ to the slightly more mature keybr.com which shows you your daily statistics and your progress over time.

How long would it take me to reach the dizzy heights of 100 wpm? Well, people who type faster than the average typing speed, train 3 times as much as those who type slower than that! Hmmm…..the general consensus via the online community is that 15-20 minutes a day for a month will easily improve your typing speed significantly. I might actually give this a try.

If becoming a speedy typist really does make us better at our jobs, shouldn’t we all try to hone this skill? Perhaps the RCPCH could consider it as an essential DOPs assessment…….

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