The Professional Communication Academic Literacy (PCAL) Support offered by the School of Nursing and Midwifery aims to equip nursing students with the literacy and English language skills necessary to successfully engage in academic writing and oral presentation tasks, and to develop the independent learning skills of students.

Hear from current students about their PCAL experiences.

Who can obtain PCAL Support assistance?

All students enrolled in the School of Nursing and Midwifery, both undergraduate and post graduate, can access PCAL Skill Support

Can external students obtain PCAL Support assistance?

External students can email PCAL Staff to make a virtual appointment where PCAL Staff may check an emailed draft of the student's writing and reply by email or make telephone or online contact during the allocated appointment time. External students must email the PCAL Staff a draft of written work at least one full day prior to the allocated appointment time. PCAL Staff will be able to offer guidance on the use of expression, grammar and structure on sections of student writing but will not proof or edit student work or comment on the specific nursing content being discussed in the writing. Students need to contact their nursing tutors and the Unit Coordinator with any content specific questions.

Who are the PCAL Staff?

The PCAL Staff are professionally trained literacy tutors with extensive experience in the teaching of academic literacy and language. The PCAL Staff work with a wide range of students and are sensitive to the cultural backgrounds and diverse linguistic and learning needs of students.

What assistance can PCAL Support provide?

PCAL Staff can provide students with advice on how to analyse an assignment question, and provide guidance on the development of skills in paraphrasing, summarising, structuring texts, organising information and making appropriate grammar and language choices for assessments involving written and oral communication. PCAL Staff can also assist in developing academic sills in reading such as skimming and scanning, and in listening and note taking.

Can PCAL Staff assist me with any nursing content?

PCAL staff will not assist or direct students in the use of content specific to the disciplines of nursing or midwifery in any assignments. Students will need to seek advice from their academic tutors about content-based questions.

What workshops do PCAL Staff offer?

PCAL Staff provide regular skills workshops on academic literacy involving academic writing, reading and grammar skills, and the use of effective oral communication skills. Assignment specific PCAL Support workshops are also provided for some units.  Please check the unit vUWS sites and on your home campus for specific PCAL Skills and Support Workshops.

How often do PCAL Skills and Support Workshops run?

PCAL Skills and Support Workshops run on a weekly basis throughout the Autumn and Spring semesters. Please check on the unit vUWS sites (opens in a new window) and on your home campus for the dates and times of the PCAL Skills and Support Workshops.

How can I find out about PCAL Skills and Support Workshop times and locations?

Refer to the vUWS sites (opens in a new window) of the Units you are enrolled in to access information about PCAL Skills and Support Workshop dates, times and locations.

Do I need to book in for workshops?

You do not need to book for the PCAL Skills and Support Workshops. You can email PCAL Staff on your campus for workshop information. When you attend, you will be asked to fill in an attendance sheet and evaluation form for the workshop.

How do I contact PCAL Staff to make an appointment?

Appointments are made by email. A staff member will reply to your email during business hours. Emails received after 3:30pm will generally be responded to the following business day. To book in for a small group or a one-on-one consultation with a member of the PCAL Staff, please send an email to the NM address of your home campus.




Provide at least 3 different days and times you are available. In your email, please include your name and student number. Also include your year of study, the unit name/number and reason for requesting assistance, for example, 1st year, Professional Communication unit 401003 - Assignment 3. Request for a small group session to discuss the essay question.

How early should I book a PCAL Support appointment?

There is high demand for PCAL Support on each campus. It is important that you make appointments early in the semester otherwise you may not be able to be accommodated. Please email two weeks prior to the date you wish to book to secure the appointment date of your choice. In addition, please be advised that you cannot book a last minute appointment for an assessment in the week that it is due. You are asked to prepare in plenty of time and attend the PCAL Support Workshops in preparing for your assessments.

What days and times are PCAL Support appointments available?

PCAL Support appointments on your campus can be booked by email from 9:00am to 3:30pm, Monday to Friday during the teaching sessions each semester.

What do I bring to my PCALS appointment?

You must bring a printed copy of your writing for your assignment with you to the small groups or one to one appointment that includes appropriate in text references for all paraphrases and direct quotes.  Also, bring your assignment question, marking criteria and submission guidelines, located in the Unit Learning Guide. Bring a pen/pencil so you can make notes and edit your own work.

How long are appointments with PCAL Staff?

Undergraduate students may book in for 30 minute appointments. Post Graduate students may request a longer appointment. Please note that appointment times may be reduced in peak periods, in order to accommodate other students.

How many times can I see PCAL Staff each week?

You may attend any of the PCAL Skills and Support Workshops. However, for small group and individual consultations students may be allocated only one appointment only per week, particularly during peak periods in the teaching weeks of semester. Postgraduate students may request longer appointments per week if required.

How many times can PCAL Staff comment on each assignment draft?

Students are encouraged to work collaboratively in the PCAL Skill and Support Workshops to review drafts of their own assignments. The sections of a draft for an assessment or the complete draft may be commented on once only by a member of the PCAL Staff, typically this would occur in stages. Students can attend a PCAL Skills and Support Workshop before beginning to write a draft if help is needed in understanding the requirements of an assignment task.

Where are the PCAL Staff located and in which buildings do the appointments take place?

PCAL Skills and Support Workshops are scheduled in tutorial rooms for groups of students on each campus. PCAL support appointments for small groups and one-to-one consultations are conducted in PCAL Staff offices, located in a School of Nursing and Midwifery building on each campus:

  • Parramatta South campus - Building EB.LG
  • Campbelltown campus - Building 17
  • Hawkesbury campus - Building G10

How do I inform PCAL Staff that I have arrived for my appointment?

A phone is located in the foyer of each School Office. Students need to dial the extension number listed next to the internal phone to contact the appropriate PCAL Staff member when they arrive for the appointment.

What do I do if I am running late for my PCAL Support appointment?

If you are running late for your appointment, you should advise the PCAL staff by email or by phone as soon as possible. In consideration to other students with an appointment, lateness will result in a shorter appointment time so please endeavour to be on time.

How do I cancel a PCAL Support appointment?

If you are unable to attend your appointment you must advise PCAL Staff by email at least 24 hours before your appointment time. This will allow time to allocate your appointment time to another small group or individual student.

Can I email a draft of my assignment for PCAL Staff to edit?

PCAL Staff will not edit or proof read the writing of students sent to them via email. PCAL Staff are able to provide comments and offer feedback and guidance on student writing skills. This occurs in PCAL Support workshops and during face-to-face appointments. Emailed copies of assignments will only be reviewed by PCAL Staff for post graduate students enrolled in an external distance study unit. All other students must book a face-to-face appointment with PCAL Staff and bring a printed copy of the writing draft.

Can I bring my children to PCAL Support appointments?

It is not recommended to have children accompany parents to PCAL Support appointments as this can be distracting for the student and the PCAL Staff member.

Can PCAL staff help me prepare for the International English Language Testing Systems (IELTS) examination and the Occupational English Test (OET)?

In general, PCAL Skills Support targets academic literacy and the processional communication skills needed for specific assignments and assignment writing. However, all PCAL Skills and Support Workshops provide help in developing the literacy and language skills required for English examinations and there are also PCAL Speaking workshops that focus on oral communication skills. Development of these literacy and language skills can assist you in preparing for components of the IELTS and OET examinations.

Can PCALS staff comment on my entire assignment draft in one appointment?

It is recommended that students attend the PCAL Skills and Support Workshops to develop the skills in academic writing for nursing assessments. During small group and individual consultations PCAL Staff cannot provide comments on an entire draft of an assignment in a 30 minute appointment. However, they will provide comments on a few draft paragraphs to highlight aspects of written expression, structure, grammar and punctuation that students, as the authors of their own written text can review in their own time. It is recommended that students seek feedback on sections of a drafted assignment in stages. With this in mind, you will need to commence your draft assignments in advance of the due date, so you have the opportunity to book in for more than one appointment per assignment if required.

Can PCAL staff help me with my in-text referencing and reference list in my assignments?

PCAL Staff can provide general advice on referencing. For specific support with the use of APA referencing, students are expected to access the UWS Library website resources and assistance available at the Library.

What is the three-day Clinical Communication Workshops?

The three-day Clinical Communication Workshops provide the opportunity for nursing students to engage in a variety of interactive speaking, writing, reading and listening skills whilst having support from nursing academics and PCAL Staff who collaborate to assist them. The Clinical Communication Workshops introduce many types of nursing communication for clinical practice. They include understanding medical terminology, speaking and writing skills for interviewing patients, answering the telephone and communicating in nursing handovers. The workshops encourage students to engage in group work in a safe and supportive atmosphere.

When do the Clinical Communication Workshops run & how do I book in?

The Clinical Communication Workshops are generally offered four times per year during the mid-semester breaks in April and September, and the semester breaks in July and December. The dates may vary slightly so you will need to check the flyers that will be made available through the School's vUWS sites, at the Clinical Labs and School's reception offices on each campus. Information about booking for the workshops with the dates and locations will be provided on the workshop flyers.