Elusive Pronouns

Pronouns are tripping people up. Consider the pronoun “I.” Standard usage dictates “I” should be used for the subject. It is now used frequently as the object as in, “My mother bought my brother and I new shoes.” You hear it everywhere, even from the mouths of those you would expect to know better.

A good way to check yourself is to move the preceding object from the sentence. You will catch the mistake immediately. Would you ever say, for example, “My mother bought I a new pair of shoes?” Of course you would not. I have even heard this usage from prominent television news commentators whose business requires using the language correctly.

Then there is that “he or she” business. When we tried to rid ourselves of sexist language, we stopped using the masculine “he” for everyone. Now we say “he or she” or “him or her,” as in “Anyone who wants to attend the conference should send his or her money by June 10.” That construction can get cumbersome and ridiculous. One simple way to fix this sentence is to change the subject to a plural. Change “anyone” to “people.” “People who want to attend the conference should send their money by June 10.”

However, the people have a simpler solution, especially in spoken English. Common usage is beginning to use the plural pronoun “their” or “them,” after a singular subject, as in “Anyone who wants to attend the conference should their money by June 10.”

The people speaking a language dictate how the language will evolve. These pronoun constructions are so widespread, our pronoun rules may change in a few hundred years. In the meantime, writers should know what they are doing. When they break the rules, they should do it for a reason and should know what they are doing. Otherwise, they are viewed as amateurs who don’t know better. A good writer knows how to use tools of the trade. (Note how I managed to move away from “his or her” before the word “tools”?) There is almost always a way to eliminate “he or she” and “his or her.”

Our Changing Language

When I came to teach in a college in Mississippi, I was amused, and somewhat dismayed, to learn that someone was to be “funeralized”, as in “John Doe will be funeralized at 10:00 on Saturday at St. John’s Church.” Then the other day, I learned that to ensure employees produce their best work, employers must find ways to “incentivize” them.

As a writer and English professor, of course, I was concerned about what the language is coming to. Then I began to think about the language. This is the way a living language evolves. Not at the academic level, but with ordinary people who speak the language. Look at the first sentence of this paragraph, for example. I have ended it with a preposition, something grammarians may still cringe over. Though after Winston Churchill’s famous rewording of one of his sentences after he was criticized for ending it with a preposition, I believe grammarians may have backed off some: “This is something with which we will not put.”

In the end, the people using the language have the last word. I have taught Milton and Shakespeare for many years. Those two created a word when one that was exactly what they needed was not available in the language. Milton is responsible for some 600 words in English. Some are “pandemonium, lovelorn, earthshaking, unaccountable, dismissive, irresponsible”. I am reminded here of “irregardless,” which is not recognized as a bona fide word, yet its use is so widespread it may someday be considered standard English.

Estimates of Shakespeare’s contribution to new words in the language range from 1,700 to 10,000. A few are “obscene, swagger, torture, skim milk, submerge”, and the list goes on.

So, to get back to “incentivize” and “funeralize”. They may very well catch on and, over a long period, be included in our dictionaries as standard English.

So how did people speak before the seventeenth century? English began as an obscure Germanic dialect that eventually became what it is today. The study of the history of the English language is fascinating to those who enjoy the study of words. If you are one of those people, you may enjoy reading Beowulf: A Trilingual Etymological Bridge by Charles Long, PhD.

Use the language as you need to use it. If a character speaks nonstandard English, then use it. The point is that to break the rules successfully, you must know the rules. Keep that dictionary nearby and use it. Good craftsmen understand how to use the tools in their tool chest. And keep writing.

Innovation in the Pharmacy

One of the greatest problems in healthcare is the difficulty in communicating information. It is not uncommon for a patient to leave the physician’s office not understanding information the caregiver thought was conveyed.  Bob Lomenick, pharmacist and owner of Tyson’s Drugs in Holly Springs, Mississippi, has found a solution to one health communications problem.

Lomenick became frustrated because so many patients took their medications haphazardly. He explains some of his frustration: “Patients come to see [their doctors] and are prescribed, say two prescriptions. They go home and forget to take their meds as prescribed, and often do not realize how long they have skipped doses. They become sicker and go back to the doctors who do not realize the patients have not been following instructions. So they prescribe more medications because the patients are clearly not improving. Now patients have five prescriptions they take as haphazardly as they took the first two.”

When Lomenick began looking around for ideas, he discovered a program developed by The University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy’s Center for Pharmaceutical Marketing and Management called RxSync Service. This program was already being implemented with success by some other other pharmacists across the country.

This innovative program synchronizes and schedules prescription refills, monitors patients monthly for adherence to physicians’ instructions, and provides pharmacists with opportunities for patient consultation and recommendations to physicians.

Synchronization and Scheduling

Use of the RxSync Service enables pharmacists to monitor patients to be certain they are taking their medications as prescribed. Pharmacists using this service report fewer missed medications and greater adherence to physician instructions about those medications.

The pharmacist synchronizes by filling all chronic medications of each “work group” on the same day each month. Thus prescriptions are filled every 28 days, except for Medicaid patients whose prescription limits demand they be filled every 30 days. The Medicaid patients form their own work group.

This method of filling prescriptions allows the pharmacist to identify any adherence problems, and the refill quantities are adjusted so no medications can accumulate.

Prescriptions are filled 2-3 days before they are due. Batch filling ahead of time saves time as the pharmacist can review orders as a batch. Any shortages can be delivered to the pharmacy before the prescriptions are due. If the pharmacy provides a delivery service, these deliveries can be coordinated, saving time and cost.

RXSync picture of order of service

This scheduled group-prescription refilling aids in inventory reduction, and thus cash outflow, because the pharmacist knows ahead of time just what is needed. The procedure also cuts down on employee stress.

To facilitate patient/physician/pharmacist communication, Lomenick utilizes a Parata Pass machine to dispense each medication dose in small bags of with the patient’s name, time dosage is due, name and strength of medication, directions for taking, and an optional bar code for bedside scanning. No guesswork is involved. p_pass_feature-300x2921

How it works

The medications to be taken at one time are dispensed in small packets in a long strip from a box. All medications to be taken at each time are in one packet; those at other times of the day are dispensed in their packets. Because doses for each time of day appear individually, patients and caregivers can tell at a glance when the last dosage was taken and when the next one is due.

Communication is one often overlooked key to better healthcare. This program is beneficial to all concerned because it provides communication among all parties involved. Pharmacies benefit because they are more efficient and more profitable while managing and improving patient compliance. Patients benefit because they are healthier as a result of compliance with the physicians’ instructions in taking their meds. Physicians benefit because they are more in control of their patients’ adherence to instructions. As a result of clearer communication, patients are healthier.


A New Member

Hello. I just joined NAIWE and look forward to meeting other members. My writing is varied: commercially for the health and education sectors, memoir writing, and fiction. My book Thief!, a mystery for the young adult reader, was published in 2013. Samples of my writing styles can be viewed in my portfolio.

In my previous life I was an English professor. Today I live with my husband and two dogs in Holly Springs, MS, a small southern town in the Greater Memphis area. Besides reading and writing, my passions are health literacy and gardening.

Independent Writer and Editor

Independent Writer and Editor