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[IRCCH Seminar Series] Mentoring, modelling and self-managing in medical practice

by Dr Suzanne Eggins, University of Technology, Sydney

Date                  23 June 2015
Time                  4:30pm-6:00pm
Venue                AG434
Medium             English


The medical training model recognises that becoming a doctor requires both academic study and on-the-job training. While doctors spend at least four years in full-time medical study, most spend a further three to seven years acquiring the professional skills that allow them to become fully accredited generalists or specialists. Throughout their extended internship and registrar periods, junior doctors are expected to learn on the job, by observing, deputizing for and reporting to their seniors. However, although this model assumes that senior clinicians will mentor the junior doctors assigned to them, I am aware of little linguistic research showing how – or whether – this mentoring is achieved in interaction.

In this paper I review a sample of interactions between doctors recorded in an Australian public hospital to investigate the discourse behaviours through which clinicians promote – or fail to promote – opportunities to learn. I draw on my background as a critical social-functional discourse analyst to identify both other-initiated and self-initiated strategies that include didactic instruction, corrective reasoning, collaborative exploration, self-correction, copy and modeling. While recognizing the value of all these strategies in promoting learning, I develop a critical account that suggests why some strategies may be more effective than others.

About the speaker

Suzanne Eggins has a BA(Hons) and PhD in Linguistics from the University of Sydney and postgraduate degrees in journalism, professional communication and applied linguistics. She taught and researched in professional writing, linguistics and children’s literature at the University of New South Wales for 15 years. She has worked in editing and publishing and since 2011 has been a health communication Research Fellow with the University of Technology Sydney, where she is also a final year PhD student advisor. Suzanne is the author of An Introduction to Systemic Functional Linguistics (2nd edition 2004, Continuum, London) and is co-author of Analysing Casual Conversation (with Diana Slade, 1997 Equinox, UK).

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