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Dr Sarah Atkins

Sarah Atkins is an applied linguistic researcher who has worked on language and communication in a number of professional contexts, primarily focusing on healthcare. She currently works with Dr Laura Thompson on a Wellcome Trust funded project at the Centre for Sustainable Working Life, analyzing spoken interaction and storytelling Schwartz Center Rounds®. These are supportive, interdisciplinary forums for healthcare staff to talk about the emotional, social and ethical complexities of their roles. The research conducts recordings of Schwartz Rounds with a number of hospital trusts, systematically transcribing and identifying patterns in the talk using conversation analysis, enabling an evidence-based understanding of how communication in this setting unfolds.

She previously worked at King’s College London (on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership project) and the University of Nottingham (Economic and Social Research Council Future Research Leaders award), where she worked on projects studying the assessment of spoken communication skills for postgraduate doctors. Her work has a strong emphasis on applying research findings in practical ways and she has produced a number of successful training interventions from her research, including face-to-face workshops for healthcare professionals and a set of e-learning modules for GP trainees, winning the University of Nottingham Knowledge Exchange and Impact Award in 2016.  She was also a member of the Linguistic Profiling for Professionals business unit at the University of Nottingham, conducting research projects with a range of organizations and delivering evidence-based communication skills training to professional audiences.

Some Recent Publications

Atkins, S. (2019). Assessing health professionals' communication through role-play: an interactional analysis of simulated versus actual GP consultations. Discourse Studies, 21(2), 109–134.

Atkins, S., & Roberts, C. (2018). Assessing institutional empathy in medical settings. Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice, 13(1-3), 11-33. Special edition in memorial of Chris Candlin.

Swinglehurst, D., & Atkins, S. (2018). When ‘yes’ means ‘no’: Why the small details of clinical interactions matter. editorial for the British Journal of General Practice, to preface the article: Albury C, Stokoe, E., Ziebland, S., Webb, H, and Aveyard, P. (2018) ‘GP delivered brief weight loss interventions: In-consultation 2 responses, and subsequent patient action’.

Tsuchiya, K., Coffey, F., Timmons, S., Atkins, S., Baxendale, B., & Adolphs, S. (2018). Account sequences in emergency care discourse: Comparing conversations with simulated patients and manikins in training sessions. Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice, 12(1), 72-93.

Hawthorne, K., Roberts, C., & Atkins, S. (2017). Sociolinguistic factors affecting performance in the Clinical Skills Assessment of the MRCGP: a mixed-methods approach. British Journal of General Practice Open, 1(1), 1-9.

Coffey, F., Tsuchiya, K., Timmons, K., Baxendale, B., Adolphs, S., & Atkins, S. (2017). Analysing voice quality and pitch in interactions of emergency care simulation. BMJ Simulation and Technology Enhanced Learning. doi: 10.1136/bmjstel-2017-000212

Atkins, S., Roberts, C., Hawthorne, K., & Greenhalgh, T. (2016). Simulated Consultations: A sociolinguistic perspective. BMC Medical Education 16(16), 1-9.

Coffey, F., Tsuchiya, K., Timmons, S. Baxendale, B. Adolphs, S., & Atkins, S. (2015). Simulated patients versus manikins in acute-care scenarios. The Clinical Teacher. 12, 1-5.

Rolfe, A., Atkins, S., Hawthorne, K., & Roberts, C. (2015). The Insider’s Guide to the Clinical Skills Assessment for the MRCGP. London: Royal College of General Practitioners Press. ISBN: 9780850843897. [212-page textbook.]

Roberts, C., Atkins, S., & Hawthorne, K. (2014). Performance Features in Clinical Skills Assessment: Linguistic and cultural factors in the Membership of the Royal College of General Practitioners examination. London: King’s College London with the University of Nottingham. ISBN: 9780956930514. [140-page research report.]

Atkins, S., & Carter, R. (2012). 'Creativity in speech'. In: Gee, J.P. and Handford, M. (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Discourse Analysis. Abingdon: Routledge. pp. 315-325.

Atkins, S., & Harvey, K. (2010, currently being updated for a new edition). ‘How to use corpus linguistics in the study of health communication’. In M. McCarthy and A. O'Keeffe (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Corpus Linguistics. Abingdon: Routledge.

Adolphs, S., Atkins, S., & Harvey, K. (2007). 'Caught between professional requirements and interpersonal needs: Vague language in healthcare’. In Joan Cutting (ed.), Vague Language Explored. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Centre for Sustainable Working Life
Birkbeck University of London
Room 210,
Clore Management Centre
Malet Street,
Bloomsbury
London WC1E 7HX
Email: cswl@bbk.ac.uk