Beyond Communication Skills

Beyond Communication Skills

This session is part of the Next Generation Curriculum Grand Rounds series. It was held Tuesday, February 5, 2013, 12:00 noon-1:00 p.m., in 2ABC, Jordan Hall Conference Center.

Beyond ‘Communication Skills’: A Rhetorical Approach to Teaching and Learning Team Communication



Lorelei Lingard, PhD

Director, Centre for Education Research & Innovation, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Western Ontario.

Description: Communication is not only descriptive; it is constructive of our realities. On healthcare teams, communication shapes attitudes towards the team’s work, relations among team members, and the coordinated actions that constitute care delivery. Research in the past decade has mapped recurrent patterns of healthcare team communication, with critical implications for how we think about ‘communication skills’ and how we teach it to, and assess it in, our trainees. This presentation emerges from research that takes a rhetorical perspective on team communication, emphasizing what communication does, the way it shapes understanding and action in social settings. Four key claims about communication will be introduced, and the research underpinning each reviewed: (1) language is not self-evident: interpretation is (almost) everything; (2) communication problems aren’t just a matter of individual ‘skill’; they emerge from rhetorical situations; (3) meaning emerges not only from spoken discourse, but also from silence, (4) changing team communication habits is an intrinsically relational activity.

By the end of the presentation, participants will be able to list these four claims, discuss their implications for teaching and assessing communication in health professional trainees, and recognize some limitations to the traditional approach to ‘communication skills’ training in the context of preparing for the complex communicative environment of teamwork. (1 CME credit)