Ms Katharine Heathcock

Ms Katharine Heathcock

Birmingham Medical School
Lecturer in Clinical Communication

Contact details

Institute of Clinical Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

After 20 years as an associate, Katharine joined the Interactive Studies Unit (ISU) as a teaching fellow and subsequently a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in 2016.

Katharine is the deputy lead for the ICS Referred Student Programme and the deputy module lead for the Professional and Academic Skills Year 1 module of the MBChB programme. She lectures in clinical communication across the healthcare programmes with a main focus on Medicine. Katharine leads on the recruitment of Simulated Patients (SPs) for use in teaching and assessment on the professional healthcare programmes. She is a member of the admissions teams in the Schools of Medicine and Nursing.

From 2020-2022, Katharine held a College role with responsibility for Student Experience and Personal Academic Tutoring (PAT). During that time, she lead a team of Senior Tutors to embed a new PAT system across all Institutes in the College of Medical and Dental Sciences and was asked by HEFi to train Senior Tutors across the University.

Between 2017-2019, Katharine ran the Birmingham International Summer School (BISS) for the School of Biomedical Sciences. She retains an interest in international students, running a number of networking and social events for overseas students across the College.

Katharine has been instrumental in the development of Interprofessional Education (IPE) in the Institute of Clinical Sciences, sitting on the IPE steering group and developing several interprofessional teaching interventions.

Katharine describes teaching as “my happy place”, having been involved in teaching and training nationally and internationally for almost 30 years.


  • Post Graduate Certificate in Higher Education 
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • BA in Community Theatre Arts


Katharine trained as an actor and graduated from Rose Bruford College (Manchester University) in 1991 with a degree in Community Theatre Arts. She gained her Equity card at the Octagon Theatre in Bolton, in a season of old-time music hall. Katharine worked in theatre, film, tv and radio for 3 years before having her first son in 1994.

In 1995, Katharine met Professor Connie Wiskin (ISU) and was inducted as a simulated patient for medical education at the University of Birmingham. She was a company director and ran her own business as a freelance role player and trainer for many years before entering academia. She has twin boys, born in 2001.

The Community Theatre Arts degree had a focus on devised theatre and theatre-in-education. Her early teaching experience was in schools and secure units for young offenders, running drama/theatre workshops. These days her students are far less likely to misbehave. She enjoys working with some of the most intelligent and talented young people in the UK and beyond, introducing elements of creativity and improvisation into the classroom, teaching clinical communication using role play.



Current projects

  • Patient Voice in the Assessment of Professionalism

Other activities

  • MDS Lead for Student Experience
  • Co-module lead for MDS Birmingham International Summer School (BISS)
  • Interprofessional education steering group member


Skelton JR, Croft P, Wiskin CM and Messenger K (now Heathcock K). Improving the communication skills of poorly performing doctors. In Field S, Strachan B, Evans G (eds). The general practice jigsaw. Abingdon: Radcliffe Medical Press. 2001:265-272.

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