Founding Director & Senior Scientist, CERI
Professor, Department of Medicine
Professor, Faculty of Education
Adjunct Professor, Department of Family Medicine
Associate Scientist, Lawson Health Research Institute
PhD, Simon Fraser University, English/Rhetoric
As someone who has devoted her life to studying the social uses of language, it might not be a surprise that Lorelei has interacted with words, language, and literature with more zeal than most for her entire life. The expansive set of burgundy encyclopaedias her parents brought into their farmhouse, the exciting day at the end of each school year when she was allowed to ransack the bookshelves of the high school classroom her mother taught in, the poetry her father quietly wrote when he relaxed after a day of farming, and many similar experiences played a role in her development into a scholar of rhetoric. Her early fascination with words flourished into adept and incisive inquiry during her graduate career in rhetoric: the study of how people use words in their daily lives to make things happen.
While Dr. Lingard’s career initially focused on the study of advertising, her interests shifted while pregnant with her first child. In her visits to the obstetrician, Lorelei was exposed to a whole new rhetorical world. In the clinic, medical professionals use words in ways that are highly charged to accomplish specific goals in a short period of time. Out of these observations, Lorelei came to believe that a new, rigorous, and scientific perspective could be brought to the study of language within the walls of clinics, hospitals, and medical schools.
Her decision proved both accurate and defining, and in the past fifteen years the field of rhetorical studies in medicine and qualitative methodologies have burgeoned into cutting edge research. By bringing scholars of language into a field where words are used so personally and with such high stakes, Lorelei’s work and the work of fellow leaders in the field have become headliners. It has become apparent to medical education researchers worldwide that scientifically gathered patterns of communication can answer questions that were outside the purview of more traditional methods of assessment and research in medical education.
Lorelei’s vision for the Centre for Education Research & Innovation and for her own work is twofold. The significant gains made in qualitative education research have brought the field into a fine balance. She believes that these next years will be critical to maintaining the fluency of traditional researchers and qualitative researchers in each other’s work. It is only by cooperating and translating for one another that both fields will continue to be the driving forces in the currently shifting medical education paradigm toward competency-based education, the social sciences and the humanities, and intelligently designed student centred curricula. Her secondary focus is ensuring that the methodologies pioneered by her and her peers will maintain their field-wide rigour and focus on accuracy. Lorelei maintains that the production of defensible and compelling knowledge will only be retained in this growing field if it stays true to its tenets: to be willing to be reflexive, to go back and re-evaluate the logic, to be truly engaged in constant comparative analysis of both the data and the researcher who produced it.