“Everyone happy with what their role is?”: A pragmalinguistic evaluation of leadership practices in emergency medicine training

Malgorzata Chalupnik, Sarah Atkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article reports a study of simulated interactions between emergency medical teams, as they are used in education for specialist trainee doctors. We focus on a key area of communicative competence that trainees are assessed on: the performance of leadership skills. Using videos of simulated trauma cases recorded within a training department of a large teaching hospital in the UK, we analyse how trainee doctors delegate tasks to their teams, matching up their linguistic performance, in particular their use of requests, to how they are assessed in the simulation overall. This allows us to establish the types of linguistic leadership performance that are evaluated positively in this setting and therefore are attributed to success. Through fine-grained, qualitative analysis, we examine the interrelationship between ‘efficiency’, evidenced by the subsequent successful completion of an action by the team, and the use of indirect and mitigated requests, finding that a high number of indirect forms are successfully used to make requests of others in this time-pressured setting. We discuss the theoretical implications of our observations, revisiting claims about linguistic behaviour in urgent contexts, and also consider the practical implications of the study, including professional practice and training.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-96
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Early online date13 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
Funding: This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council [grant number ES/K00865X/1].


  • Collaboration
  • Healthcare
  • Indirectness
  • Leadership
  • Politeness
  • Requests


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