Professional communication practices of radiotherapists in the workplace and classroom in higher education in the Western Cape, South Africa.
Wyrley-Birch, Bridget Diana
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The focus of this study is the professional communication practices of radiotherapists as clinical practitioners and as teachers of student/novice radiotherapists. The study was undertaken at a higher education institution and a radiation oncology department in South Africa and addressed the research question; what are the communication practices of radiotherapists in their professional practice and as higher education teachers. This work on professional communication was based on practice and discourse theory as relating to a local context of professional practice and education. Professional communication, seen in this sense, is a social practice which needs to be understood as operating within educational, work and social discursive practices of radiation therapy. A case study approach was chosen as the most appropriate research strategy for capturing the authentic communication practices of radiotherapists in clinical and educational practice. The professional communication practices of ten student and five qualified radiotherapists were investigated through typical teaching and learning interactions in a work integrated learning curriculum. The learning interactions were observed and video-taped in the classroom, tutorial, and demonstration room. Communication interactions were observed and audio taped in the clinical workplace. The research participants, using the video footage as part of their reflections, were interviewed about their communication practices. All interviews were audio taped and transcribed. Analysis of the data was by means of thematic analysis where the data was coded and categorised by means of pattern matching.