The search for a set of skills which can be identified and taught as 'good clinical communication' has been of considerable value in persuading decision makers at medical schools and other bodies that communication matters. These days, very large numbers of medical schools use what are essentially skills-based models, such as the extraordinarily thorough Calgary-Cambridge approach. However, I believe that the emphasis on communication' as simply a set of skills, such as eye contact, open questions and so on, has badly skewed the development of the discipline. The teaching of "communication skills" in fact strikes me as a very small part of what I do, not a very difficult part for the majority of students, and - whisper it - one which is often pretty dull...In "Language and Clinical Communication", John Skelton critically considers the theory behind this complex field. His wide-ranging approach reflects on the recent developments within the medical humanities and reflects on his controversial stance; questioning the relevance of skill-based teaching in the clinical arena in an accessible, easy to read manner.
You will find Skelton's light-hearted and open-minded attitude to the topic unquestionably illuminating.
Director, Interactive Studies Unit, Department of Primary Care and General Practice, University of Birmingham
The ambiguous inheritance. Rhetoric and the discourse community. Two ways of looking at ambiguity. An old debate. Remediation and referrals. The commissar and the connoisseur.
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