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What is that you ask? Well, recently in a meeting with someone we had a chuckle about all of the acronyms we face in our work. They mentioned that they had a chart on their office walls with a legend for what they called TLA’s or three letter acronyms. I laughed and asked for a photo. Unfortunately I do not have the photo to share just yet.

Acronyms are ever-present in our world now. I encounter them every day in my work, whether my home hep C organization PHCN (Pacific Hepatitis C Network) or in my affiliated connections with AHC, H4H, PHSA, PHAC, HU, CLF, ALF, and on and on. One of the more recent and kind of humorous ones is PIE, which is Patient Involved Education. Not the tasty kind of pie but nonetheless a worthwhile activity and important direction in healthcare.

I recently joked with a colleague about doing a skit in which the language would all be in acronyms. Not today, but it would be fun. Another version of a modern abbreviated communication method, which I am guilty of using on occasion, is emoticons, but we will save that discussion for another time ☺

Acronyms have a place and purpose, which makes perfect sense to me. As long as everyone knows what they represent we are good to go, but if someone throws them around without knowing the listeners understanding it can be awkward. The listener may feel obliged to nod as if they know what they mean, all the while having no clue.
In this situation I think it is reasonable to ask what the TLA means.
There is no shame in not understanding a TLA because after all how could we know them all.

When the number of letters grows, it gets even more complicated

Add just one letter and you have a four letter acronym or FLA, and to some that is short for Florida. Imagine the confusion. Funny how four letter acronyms (FLA) is only a TLA itself.

One of my favorite acronyms is STBBI, and for those of you who know what it means, congratulations, you are in the minority. I call them stubby because if I were to say it as a word it would sound like stubby. I chuckle nearly every time I say stubby for some reason. I guess it is one of those funny words to me. The fact is it means Sexually Transmitted Blood Borne Infections. That is a mouthful indeed. A serious group of disease without question, and I don’t mean to make fun of the serious nature of what they represent.

I like looking at things with a humorous bent from time to time because it helps me cope with the pain these things can cause people. I see lots of pain and suffering and maybe it is akin to the kind of gallows humor that is not uncommon with first responders and medical staff who see some awful things in their daily lives. In any case I think we all need a way to have fun, if even in the mocking or fun making of the tedious and mundane TLA’s.

In closing I hope you get to wherever you are going ASAP and you receive some TLC when you get there.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.