Advances in Health Sciences Education

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 121–133

The rhetorical ‘turn’ in medical education: What have we learned and where are we going?


    • Wilson Centre for Research in Education and Department of PaediatricsUniversity of Toronto
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10459-006-9046-y

Cite this article as:
Lingard, L. Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract (2007) 12: 121. doi:10.1007/s10459-006-9046-y


This paper presents a critical reflection on the contributions and challenges associated with one rhetorical approach to studying teaching and learning communication in health professions education. A rhetorical approach treats language as a social act, and attends to the role of language in establishing professional identities and relationships. The research has produced insights into the use of standard communication formats to teach novices, the nature of socialization on clinical teams, and the relationship between communication patterns and patient safety. Challenges and emerging questions include the problem of accounting for the material dimensions of communication in a rhetorical model, grappling with the complexities of distributed teams, and difficulties bridging the epistemologies of rhetoric and psychometrics.


Health professional communicationRhetorical theorySocializationTeamwork

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006