About the ISU

We have been teaching medical students clinical communication since 1991 in support of the MBChB Programme at Birmingham. The ISU was founded in 1993 to foster and develop this early work, and to offer it more widely across the health professions.

Our aims are:

  • To develop and deliver among the best communication skills courses anywhere for the health professions
  • To undertake original research, reflecting the wide range of expertise of the team
  • To develop personally and communally as educators
  • To recognise that our expertise, and therefore our responsibilities, extend beyond what is often understood by the term “communication skills”

Above all, the ISU was conceived from the outset as a multi-disciplinary educational team – and that’s how we have remained. Core staff at present have qualifications in Medicine, Nursing, Education, Linguistics, Health Care Ethics, Literature, Communication and Drama, to name only those areas with obvious relevance to our teaching.

Which brings us to the picture today...

As far as teaching is concerned, we deliver thousands of hours per year, with a wide variety of health professionals: we do everything from basic communication skills with patients to communicating with colleagues, negotiating skills, conflict resolution, teacher education and training, writing for publication, Medical Humanities, Theatre in Health Education, appraisal skills, communication and ethics, communication in cancer care – and the other things you will find represented on this website. Some of this work continues to develop with the support of the Postgraduate Deanery, and with their agenda in mind: we work closely with them on a wide range of initiatives.

In research, well, we have tried to develop research with a difference, reflecting the unique mix of expertise of the Unit, and concentrating therefore on work which could not easily be undertaken elsewhere, in the link between language and communication, for example. We have also been able to fund PhD Studentships, and to expand the number of research students supervised within the team. Finally, in addition to our own primary research, we have been built in as consultants on research projects headed by other people and other institutions in UK and abroad.

All of which means that at present we are in a strong position, and hope and expect to develop further.

If you have feedback for us, please get in touch. We’re always delighted to hear from people!