Skip to content ↓

How bad communication crashes airplanes and costs lives​​​​​​​

Published on 13/10/20

We were delighted to welcome Dr Adrian Boyle to Stephen Perse, consultant emergency physician at Addenbrookes Hospital, to talk to Senior School and Sixth Form students about communication skills and how they impact our effectiveness at school and work regardless of our future ambitions or the career direction we choose.  

Dr Boyle started his talk by showing the alarming contents of an aircraft's black box, the name given to an electronic recording device that all aircraft carry to allow the investigation of aviation accidents and incidents. Students very quickly understood the key communication skills that could have prevented the disaster that the black box revealed. 

Dr Boyle explained that non-technical skills are those skills, behaviours and attributes that are essential in most professions where interaction between people is constant and a requirement, and in medicine quite simply save lives. We learnt the importance of using direct eye contact and people’s forename in a polite but assertive manner for effective communication alongside key ways to ask for help. Dr Boyle suggested that students use the acronym widely used in medicine SBAR (Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation) and apply it to everyday scenarios such as asking for help in lessons. After much amusement we focused on why teams need leaders and how to prioritise tasks; already highlighted as important skills for Year 12 students. We are indebted to Dr Boyle for his continual support or our Medsoc programme. On this occasion, with social distancing in place we used technology to run a simultaneous and interactive session that included Year 11, 12, 13 all in their separate ‘bubbles’. We look forward to the next exciting episode!