Sarah White

PhD, BA (Hons), SFHEA, Dr

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Personal profile


My goal is to enhance clinical care through improved communication between clinicians and consumers. To achieve this, I work to integrate clinical communication teaching and research, using up-to-date teaching methods, conducting research on teaching clinical communication, and using research to create data-driven teaching materials.

I am an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Macquarie University and Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Social Impact at the University of New South Wales.

In my research, I use conversation analysis to investigate clinical communication, particularly doctor-patient consultations. To date, I have focussed primarily on surgeon-patient consultations, including co-editing a book titled Communication in Surgical Practice with Prof John Cartmill, published in 2016. I am currently involved in several projects, including work on pain communication and on telehealth.

Building on existing work and ad hoc collaborations, Prof John Cartmill, A/Prof Peter Roger and I established the Clinical Communication Group in 2021 to facilitate more effective collaboration on research, supervision, and teaching. The aim is to connect different expertise to investigate and improve patient experience and care. 

Throughout my research I have been building a database of clinical interactions to support research and teaching sustainability. When participants give consent, video recordings collected for research or teaching are also added to this database of clinical interactions that can be then used for teaching or secondary analysis. There are currently over 200 clinical interactions in the library, including clinician-patient consultations and operating theatre team interactions.

Upon starting my Senior Lecturer role at Macquarie in late 2015, I led the design and development of the professional practice series of units in the Bachelor of Clinical Science. These units focus on supporting students interested in careers in health care to develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills across topics such as communication, teamwork, ethics, and health systems. 

In 2018 I created a Connected Curriculum online module on consutation skills for use in health professions courses such as the Doctor of Medicine. My face-to-face teaching includes incorporation of Conversation Analytic Roleplay Method, for which I am the only Australian affiliate. In 2019 I became a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA).

Since 2021 I have been the National Representative for the International Association for Communication in Healthcare (EACH) after 2.5 years as Deputy National Representative. I am a member of their Policy and Practice subcommittee (pEACH) and am currently leading a podcast project called HealthChat(ter). 

In 2020, I joined the editorial board of BJGP Open and am guest editing a special collection on telehealth across 2021-2022.

Across many of these projects, I supervise undergraduate and postgraduate students on Professional and Community Engagement (PACE) and research placements. 

Education/Academic qualification

Higher Education, Senior Fellow (SFHEA), Advance HE

Award Date: 29 Aug 2019

PhD, A Structural Analysis of Surgeon-Patient Consultations in Clinic Settings in New Zealand, University of Otago

Award Date: 10 Dec 2011

Linguistics and Spanish and Latin American Studies, BA (Hons), An Analysis of Spanish-English Codeswitching in the Mexican-Australian Community, The University of New South Wales

Award Date: 31 Mar 2006

External positions

Senior Lecturer, UNSW Sydney

3 Jan 2022 → …

National Representative, International Association for Communication in Healthcare (EACH)

2021 → …

External PhD Supervisor, The University of Adelaide

2021 → …

Social Media Officer, International Association for Communication in Healthcare (EACH)

1 Oct 20201 Feb 2022

Editorial Board member, BJGP Open

2020 → …

Deputy National Representative, International Association for Communication in Healthcare (EACH)



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