This was the second seminar in a series that started last semester with a session focused on issues of intercultural competence in the context of police interviewing. These seminars/workshops are intended to bring together researchers and practitioners with the aim of increasing understanding of each other's perspectives on intercultural issues and, therefore, creating opportunities for collaboration. In this seminar intercultural competence was explored in the context of healthcare communication.
The central talk was given by Dr Lynda Yates, Associate Professor at Macquarie University, Sydney, where she heads one of the largest linguistics departments in the world. Dr Yates's research interests centre around adult language learning and communication in workplace and higher-education contexts, focusing in particular on speaking skills, pronunciation and interpersonal pragmatics. She has recently received funding from the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship to undertake a 3-year longitudinal study into the relationship between language training and settlement outcomes of newly arrived migrants from non-English-speaking backgrounds. She has also completed and published studies investigating teaching and learning strategies likely to promote internationalisation. In her talk she reported on her recent pilot study investigating the communication difficulties facing overseas-educated doctors in Australia. The findings from the study are intended to inform the training of medical professionals operating in non-native contexts.
Further contributors included: Dr Gabrina Pounds, Lecturer in discourse analysis, Language and Communication Studies, and Dr Mike Laurence, General Practitioner at the Bacon Road Medical Centre in Norwich and Honorary Senior Lecturer at UEA. Dr Pounds' research focuses on (comparative) discourse analysis, particularly the expression of attitude and subjectivity. She has published articles on the expression of opinion in Letters to the Editor, attitude and subjectivity in hard-news reporting, evaluation in advertising and expression of empathy in physician-patient interactions. She is currently working with Dr Charlotte Salter, Dr Mary Jane Platt and Dr Pauline Bryant (MED) on the development of an empathy-specific entry test for applicants to the Norwich Medical School (funded by the Association for the Study of Medical Education). In her talk she considered the potential for the transferability of empathetic competence across languages and cultures. Dr Mike Laurence has already widely contributed to the teaching of consultation skills and medical practice in NMS. In this seminar, he spoke about his experience as a General Practitioner in a local Medical Centre, with particular reference to issue of miscommunications, including cases of intercultural misunderstandings.
Special guests included members of the CAST team, a drama-based training consultancy working in the Drama School at UEA and academic staff and PG students from MED. CAST have been training Drama students to act as patients in the simulation activities used to support medical students' consultation practice in MED.
The event was a lively and constructive discussion forum for all involved, leading to the set-up of further collaborative activities within and outside UEA.