In both her teaching and research, Dr. Jenkins’ work explores forms of communication which link the arts and the sciences. In 2000, she became actively involved in teaching medical education students oral communication skills through the Standardized Patient Program in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto.
“I sometimes have to acknowledge that science students can run rings around me in terms of mathematics or chemistry,” says Dr. Jenkins, “but if they can’t explain technical concepts in ways that are professional, yet understandable to a general audience, they’re going to have difficulty in the job market, finding funding support or getting published.”
CMN 100 Professional Health Communication is a workshop course designed specifically for students studying public health, occupational health and social work. Dr. Jenkins introduces students to fundamental communication concepts of rhetoric, document design, professional writing, research and analysis that can be used to persuasively connect with diverse audiences.
Dr. Jenkins’ research focuses on the development and application of communication skills in medical contexts. She hopes to continue to improve discourse and knowledge transfer between practicing professionals and patients.
Her work in ProCom recently led Dr. Jenkins to collaborate with RySciMatch. RySciMatch is a non-credit course in which senior undergraduate and faculty mentors help students identify research opportunities in the Faculty of Science and beyond, explore science’s diversity outside the classroom, and develop communication and leadership skills.
We asked Dr. Jenkins if she has any tips for effective communication of knowledge. She suggests managing anxiety is key to delivering effective presentations.
“People sometimes panic when it come to presentations, but a couple of useful tricks can help. The first thing is preparation. Spend time researching, organizing, developing and rehearsing your presentation to improve confidence and reduce performance anxiety. When it’s time to present, you feel ready. People are often most nervous just before they begin their presentation. Anxiety tends to make us breath rapidly, so oxygen and carbon-dioxide aren’t properly exchanged in the lungs; a build-up of carbon dioxide can cause light-headedness or even fainting. So my second piece of advice is to take a few slow, deep breaths to reduce performance jitters. Once you start presenting, you can call on all the rehearsing you’ve done to carry you through to a successful presentation.”