Leading scholar on medical practice communication named Honorary Fellow
In many areas of patient care, outcomes are only as strong as the teams in place – and in particular, how well those teams communicate. Lorelei Lingard, PhD, is a leading scholar in this field, both in Canada and internationally, and her work has improved medical education and training at all levels.
In recognition of her pioneering and transformative research on communication in medical practice, Dr. Lingard – inaugural director and now senior scientist at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry’s Centre for Education Research & Innovation (CERI) – has been named a 2020 Honorary Fellow of the Royal College.
Dr. Lingard, who completed her PhD in Rhetoric from the English Department at Simon Fraser University, is a leader in interdisciplinary research exploring the communication practices and collaborative experiences of health care professionals in patient care – a field that barely existed when she started her work.
“When Dr. Lingard began working in this field, team work and communication were under-recognized as to their fundamental importance in effective health care delivery,” says Richard K. Reznick, MD, FRCSC, former dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, Queen’s University. Collaborative practice was “an emerging concept twenty years ago when Lorelei started writing about this.”
When ‘communication’ was discussed back then, it usually referred to communication between a provider and patient, says Dr. Lingard. “There had been very little consideration given to communication among physicians and other health care providers.”
Dr. Lingard’s research on medical team communication – in operating theatres, inpatient medicine wards, and many other clinical contexts – has changed thinking about best practices in health care.
“The concept of collective competence that was developed based on that work is influencing thinking about effective health care, how to organize it and how to educate professionals to contribute to it,” says Dr. Pim Teunissen, obstetrician/gynecologist and professor at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. “In my opinion, that is seminal work and we are only beginning to realize the implications of these concepts. I am confident her tremendous contributions and influence are just the starting point of a paradigm shift in health care quality and education.”
As CERI’s founding director for 10 years, Dr. Lingard mentored many scientists, clinicians and graduate students at Western University – and helped shape their careers.
“As a result of Dr. Lingard’s mentorship, I obtained my PhD in Health Professions Education during residency, a feat I would not have considered if it was not for her support and encouragement,” says Taryn Taylor, assistant professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Western. “It is not uncommon to encounter other physicians and trainees with similar stories – Dr. Lingard has an amplifying effect on othersDr. Lingard says mentorship is one of most rewarding parts of her work. “I approach it in terms of the person’s humanity more than their career,” she says. “I ask about what feeds their joy and try to help them build a career around that.”
In learning she would be named an Honorary Fellow, Dr. Lingard says she was “enormously” moved.
“Partly because I came to the world of medical communication as an outsider,” she says. “I’m not a physician…To be recognized by my physician colleagues with this kind of honour is deeply moving for me.”
Read more about Royal College Honorary Fellowship.