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Lorelei Lingard is awarded the Karolinska Institutet Prize for Research in Medical Education

Lorelei Lingard

Professor Lorelei Lingard’s research has contributed significantly to our understanding of how healthcare professionals interact and communicate with each other, which has led to new clinical practices and increased patient safety.

Professor Lingard, Professor in the Department of Medicine at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and cross-appointed in the Faculty of Education at Western University in Canada, will receive the award and a prize amount of €50,000 at a ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden, on 11 October.

“I’m deeply honored to be recognized for this prize. Professionally, it’s a huge recognition of the work that I do together with my wonderful collaborative research teams, and the impact it has had. The field of team communication research didn’t exist 20 years ago and I’m enormously proud to have contributed to its development in our medical education community. From a more personal perspective, I’m very proud to be the first woman to win this prestigious prize,” says Professor Lingard.

About the prize

The purpose of the prize is to recognize and stimulate high-quality research in the field and to promote long-term improvements of educational practices in medical training. “Medical” includes all education and training for any health science profession. The prize is made possible through financial support from the Gunnar Höglund and Anna-Stina Malmborg Foundation. It is currently awarded every second year.

“I’m happy to announce Professor Lingard as this year’s prize winner. She has contributed significantly to our understanding of how healthcare teams interact and communicate. Her research has been a major force in changing the way medical education views teamwork and has led to new clinical practices and increased patient safety,” says Professor Sari Ponzer, Chair of the Prize Committee.

An interest in communication

Since the late 1990s, Professor Lingard has been studying how healthcare teams function – both in providing patient care and during clinical training. She and her research team have studied expert and novice team members in settings as diverse as the operating room, the critical care unit, the heart function clinic, the organ transplantation team, the rehabilitation hospital, and the inpatient medicine ward.

“My entry point into teamwork is always language. I’m interested in how teams communicate, because their communication is fundamental to how they collaborate and how they educate. My disciplinary training is in rhetoric – the study of how language works in social situations. Applying rhetoric to healthcare, I have worked to unravel what language does on teams. My research asks: what does language make possible in a team, and what does it constrain? As it turns out, language does many things that are critical for medical education and for care delivery. As a consequence of my research, we now pay systematic and critical attention to how clinical team members communicate with each other,” says Professor Lingard.

Her research has helped shape medical education policy in her native Canada as well as internationally. As a result, the role of language is today emphasized in clinical training, which was not previously the case. Her research has also inspired the recognition that teamwork is essential to how trainees learn. As clinical teams are the setting for most workplace-based learning in medicine, their structures and practices have a profound influence on that learning. Just a few decades ago, teamwork was not seen as important within medical education but today, thanks to Professor Lingard’s collaborative research program, it’s recognized as a critically important aspect of what and how medical trainees learn.

Lorelei Lingard, Professor in the Department of Medicine at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. Photographer: Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry