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Book: Communication in Surgical Practice

Chapter: Chapter 3 Doing Patient-Centred Consultations: Some Challenges for International Medical Graduates

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.26405


In this chapter we draw on naturally-occurring and simulated data to identify the particular challenges faced by transnational surgeons from language backgrounds other than English who are preparing to practise in Australia. While the nature of patient-centred consultations has attracted considerable attention in the literature and approaches to communications training which confine themselves to the formulaic much critiqued, there has been little focus on the specific features of interaction that promote the sense of comfort the patient needs. Yet these features are likely to vary across languages and cultures and thus pose a particular challenge for surgeons whose training and experience have been in a different culture and through a different language. Using data collected from doctors practising in a large public hospital and IMGs seeking accreditation to practice in Australia, we consider the communicative features used by native speakers to put their patients at ease and orient the consultation towards a person-centred rather than a medical focus. The implications for a targeted approach to communications training for IMG surgeons will be proposed.

Chapter Contributors

  • Lynda Yates ( - lyyates) 'Department of Linguistics Macquarie University'
  • Maria Dahm ( - mariadahm) 'Macqaurie University'