Dr Sarah Atkins is Assistant Professor in Applied Linguistics. Her research investigates language and professional communication, primarily in health care settings. She has conducted research with a range of professional groups, including GPs and emergency care providers, exploring the ways in which communication is assessed in professional licensing examinations. Her projects include an Economic and Social Research Council 'Future Research leaders' grant, 2013-2016, which looks at the assessment of interpersonal and communication skills through simulated clinical consultations with patient role-players. Her work has a strong emphasis on applying findings into practice and she has delivered a number of successful workshops for health care professionals based on the findings of her work.
Facilitated by an Economic and Social Research Council 'Future Research Leaders' grant (2013-16), I'm carrying out a study which addresses a current, real-world topic in medical education from the… read more
ATKINS, S., ROBERTS, C., HAWTHORNE, K. and GREENHALGH, T., 2016. Simulated consultations: A sociolinguistic perspective BMC Medical Education. 16(16), 1-9
Facilitated by an Economic and Social Research Council 'Future Research Leaders' grant (2013-16), I'm carrying out a study which addresses a current, real-world topic in medical education from the analytic perspective of sociolinguistics. Postgraduate medical assessments now involve an important and well-established focus on effective interaction with patients, and this is often formally assessed as part of various clinical examinations. Through simulated consultations with role-played patients, doctors can be observed in action, enabling examiners to assess not only clinical knowledge, but crucially how that knowledge is deployed and communicated with a patient in a spoken context. However, the pass rates in many of these exams, particularly higher failure rates for those who have done their initial medical training overseas, have led to concerns that linguistic and cultural factors may play a role in doctors' poorer performance in consultations.
Building on a Knowledge Transfer Partnerships study, conducted at King's College London from 2011-2013 under Professor Celia Roberts and Professor Kamila Hawthorne, this ESRC 'Future Research Leaders' grant enables me to further research these simulated consultations, with a view to better understanding what is happening at an interactional level. A close linguistic analysis is made of video data from simulated patient surgeries, including an analysis of non-verbal features of communication, in addressing where communicative differences or difficulties might be occurring. This has implications for further understanding contemporary clinical examinations and the training and preparation postgraduate doctors can undertake.
You can find out more about my work on the project webpage