?Talking technical?: Learning how to communicate as a health care professional

24 Jun 2020

The focus of this paper is on the oral communication practices of radiotherapists as clinical practitioners and as university lecturers. A case study approach was chosen as the most appropriate research strategy for capturing authentic communication practices in clinical and educational settings. The communication practices of the participants were observed and video- taped in academic classrooms and clinical workplaces. The research participants were asked to watch the video-recording and to reflect on their communication practices. The data obtained from the research processes, which included observation schedules, video footage, and transcriptions of interviews, were thematically analysed. A model of radiotherapy communication evolved, consisting of three main oral professional communication genres, namely intra-, inter- and extra-professional communication. Analysis showed that the different genres contained both formal and informal registers, and that technical registers dominated in intra- and inter-professional oral communication. It was concluded that health science professionals use a continuum of communication practices, which includes formal and informal registers, as well as technical and non-technical lexeis. Mastery of oral communication practices plays an important role in radiotherapists? professional identity and expertise, and enables novices to discover a ?professional voice?.