Professionalism Matters

Expert guests on the doctor/patient relationship and the latest themes in ethics, research, education and clinical practice. Hosted by Professor Denis Harkin.

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Season 2, Episode 5: Leadership in Healthcare with Professor Ciaran O'Boyle

Ciaran O'BoyleWelcome to Season 2 of Professionalism Matters!

Professor Ciaran O'Boyle joins Professor Denis Harkin in the final episode of series two of Professionalism Matters podcast, where they discuss workplace leadership in healthcare.

A Professor of Psychology at RCSI, Prof. O'Boyle is the founding director of the RCSI Centre for Positive Health Sciences.




Professor Ciaran O'Boyle is a Professor of Psychology at RCSI and the Founding Director of the RCSI Centre for Positive Health Sciences (formerly the Centre for Positive Psychology and Health).

He is also the Founding Director of the RCSI Institute of Leadership, which he managed from 2005 to 2019.

He established the first department of psychology in an Irish medical school in 1985 and was its chairman until 2005. He has also been a Visiting Professor of Behavioural Sciences at Trinity College Dublin, Vice Dean of the RCSI Faculty of Medicine and a member of of the RCSI Senior Management Team.

Since 2001, he has been the National Educator for the RCSI Advanced Trauma and Life Support (ATLS) Programme. Before joining RCSI, he was a Senior Research Psychologist at the Irish Foundation for Human Development/UCD Department of Psychiatry and a psychopharmacologist at the Psychosomatic Research Unit, both at St James's Hospital in Dublin.

He holds a BSc and a PhD, both from UCD, a Diploma in Theology from the Milltown Institute of Theology and Philosophy, and a Diploma in Organisational Leadership from the University of Oxford.

He lectures extensively in Ireland and internationally and he has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers, three books and numerous book chapters. He has extensive experience as a consultant psychologist for a range of national and international public- and private-sector organisations in the military, aviation, financial services, education, government and healthcare sectors.

Season 2, Episode 4: Death, Dying and Bereavement with Eric Clarke and Orla Keegan

Welcome to Season 2 of Professionalism Matters!

In this episode Professor Denis Harkin, Eric Clarke and Orla Keegan have an informative discussion on death, dying and bereavement.

Eric Clarke is Lecturer in Health Informatics at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, and Orla Keegan is Head of Education and Bereavement at the Irish Hospice Foundation.

Eric Clarke is a lecturer in health informatics at the Department of Medical Professionalism at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences.

He currently co-ordinates the Professionalism in the Health Sciences module, a part of Foundation Year.

After completing an MSc in Loss and Bereavement (jointly run by RCSI and the Irish Hospice Foundation), he has been involved in a number of educational developments that aim to enhance the topics of death, dying and bereavement in the RCSI curriculum.

Eric also supports and advocates for the national Bereavement Support Line.

Orla Keegan is Head of Education and Bereavement Services at the Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF). She has a background in psychology with a Master's in Social and Organisational Psychology from University College Dublin.

Orla worked at the University of Dundee, at Fife Health Board in Scotland, and at RCSI before joining the IHF. Her research included patient satisfaction assessment, patient complaints and bereaved relatives’ views on care for the dying. Orla set up the MSc in Loss and Bereavement/MSc in Loss and Bereavement (Clinical Practice) run in Dublin through RCSI.

At IHF she works with a team aiming to promote the development of bereavement care and bereavement education in Ireland. As part of its response to COVID-19, the IHF set up a national bereavement support line with the HSE.

She is co-chair of the European Association for Palliative Care Bereavement Taskforce and a member of the steering committee for Bereavement Network Europe.

Season 2, Episode 3: Coaching for Wellbeing with Professor Jan Illing

Welcome to Season 2 of Professionalism Matters!

In this episode Professor Denis Harkin and Professor Jan Illing discuss workplace bullying in healthcare.

Professor Illing is Professor of Health Professions Education and Director of the Health Professions Education Centre at RCSI.

She has worked extensively in the field of health professions education and acted as academic advisor to a range of bodies: Jan and her research collaborators have conducted research across a range of health profession education themes including medical transitions, professionalism, clinical supervision, assessment, revalidation and workplace bullying.


Jan Illing is Professor of Health Professions Education and Director of the Health Professions Education Centre at RCSI.

She joined RCSI in November 2020. She was previously Professor of Medical Education Research at Newcastle University, where she moved with her research team in July 2015 from Durham University. Prior to that she spent five years at Durham University where she set up the Centre for Medical Education Research.

While at Durham University Jan was appointed the Director of Research for the School of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health and in her final role was leading the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing.

Jan has worked extensively in the field of health professions education and has worked in formally contracted arrangements with the UK Department of Health, Health Education England, UK regulators including the General Medical Council (GMC) and the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), and for research grant-awarding bodies including the National Institute for Health Research and the Economic and Social Research Council. Jan has gained over 40 grants totaling approximately £4m.

Jan has acted as academic advisor to a range of bodies including Health Education England, the GMC's Assessment Advisory Board and the Department of Health’s Revalidation Support Team. Her research has been widely discussed including by the UK’s Parliamentary Health Selection Committee and her research has created impact informing changes in policy and practice, including the GMC’s undergraduate policy Tomorrow’s Doctors 2009. Jan is currently a member of the International Editorial Board of the Journal of Medical Education

Jan and her research collaborators have conducted research across a range of health profession education themes including: medical transitions, professionalism, clinical supervision, assessment, revalidation and workplace bullying.

Season 2, Episode 2: Coaching for Wellbeing with Professor Christian van Nieuwerburgh

Christian van Nieuwerburgh

Welcome to Season 2 of Professionalism Matters!

In this episode Professor Denis Harkin and Professor Christian van Nieuwerburgh discuss Coaching for Wellbeing.

Professor Christian van Nieuwerburgh is an academic, consultant and executive coach.

He is Professor of Coaching and Positive Psychology at the Centre for Positive Health Sciences, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences.



Prof. Christian van Nieuwerburgh is an academic, consultant and executive coach.

He is Professor of Coaching and Positive Psychology at the Centre for Positive Health Sciences at the RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, Global Director for Growth Coaching International, a provider of coach training and consultancy for the education sector; Principal Fellow of the Centre for Wellbeing Science at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education of the University of Melbourne (Australia), and Honorary CollectivEd Fellow of the Carnegie School of Education at Leeds Beckett University (UK).

He is a certified executive coach (master practitioner with the European Mentoring and Coaching Council and professional certified coach with the International Coaching Federation).

Christian has written extensively in the fields of coaching and positive psychology and is the author of An Introduction to Coaching Skills: A Practical Guide (now in its third edition), among other publications.

His most recent publication is From Surviving to Thriving: A Student’s Guide to Feeling and Doing Well at University (co-edited with Paige Williams).

Christian is passionate about the integration of coaching and positive psychology to improve outcomes and enhance wellbeing in educational, health and corporate settings (@christianvn on Twitter).

He enjoys spending time with family, travelling, writing and riding his Harley Davidson (@coachonamotorcycle on Instagram).

Season 2, Episode 1: Human Factors in Patient Safety with Professor Eva Doherty

Welcome to Season 2 of Professionalism Matters!

In this episode, Professor Denis Harkin speaks with Professor Eva Doherty, Director of Human Factors in Patient Safety, RCSI.

Check back weekly for the latest instalment in the series, including: Coaching for Wellbeing with Professor Christian van Nieuwerburgh, Workplace Bullying in Healthcare with Professor Jan Illing, Death, Dying and Bereavement with Eric Clarke and Orla Keegan, and Workplace Leadership in Healthcare with Professor Ciaran O'Boyle.



My job title is Director of Human Factors in Patient Safety. I have responsibility for the design, coordination and delivery of the Human Factors in Patient Safety training and postgraduate education at RCSI. 

Surgeons and emergency medicine doctors in postgraduate training are required to attend RCSI for mandatory human factors in patient safety training for two to three days each year for up to eight years of their postgraduate training. In addition, I design and deliver courses for non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs) and have innovated an inter-professional two-year part-time masters degree in human factors in patient safety.

There are also a range of masterclasses available for consultants each year. Interprofessional education and training is an important component of all programmes and currently the programmes include health professionals from surgery, emergency medicine, radiology, radiography, anaesthesiology, nursing and pharmacy.

I am a practising chartered clinical psychologist and my clinical experience informs my interest in clinical communication and in the mental health of health professionals.

View my RCSI profile here.

Season 1, Episode 6: Digital Professionalism with Dr Shaista Salman

Shaista Salman is a lecturer in Professionalism at RCSI Bahrain.

Shaista started as a clinician specialising in Radiology before going on to be an academic and completing her PhD, titled 'Development, Validation and Evaluation of Medical Education e-Professionalism Framework

Listen in for a conversation between Dr Salman and Professor Harkin around the many interesting and important aspects of professionalism online.

“Being conscious and cautious that whatever is going out there is depicting myself...”


"To date my 20-year career has been like surfing from one tide to another: A relatable metaphor for the 21st century, where skillsets are rapidly changing.

"I started as a clinician and went on to be an academic, but I found it hard to connect to students.

"To hone those skills, I got on another tide of medical education, which I thoroughly enjoyed until I reached the crest and paddled out, now riding a newer and stronger tide of professionalism."

Season 1, Episode 5: Burnout with Professor Colin West

This week Professor Colin West has a discussion with Professor Denis Harkin on the important topic of burnout.

Professor West is a physician and researcher and an expert in physician wellbeing.

He is currently a Professor of Medicine, Medical Education, Medical Statistics at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA.

Together they discuss burnout, personal wellbeing and MVP (meaning, values and purpose).

“Burnout is not an individual failing, for the most part...”


Originally from Seattle, Dr West received his MD and PhD in Biostatistics from the University of Iowa in 1999. He completed residency and chief residency in internal medicine at Mayo Clinic, and joined the faculty in General Internal Medicine in 2004.

He is currently Professor of Medicine, Medical Education, and Biostatistics at Mayo. He is Director of the Mayo Clinic Program on Physician Well-Being and was named the first Medical Director of Employee Well-Being for Mayo Clinic in 2022.

Dr West's research has focused on medical education and physician well-being, and has been widely published in prominent journals including The Lancet, JAMA, Annals of Internal Medicine and JAMA Internal Medicine.

Season 1, Episode 4: Advocacy with Dr Suzanne Crowe

Dr Suzanne Crowe is an anaesthesiologist, an intensivist, an associate professor in paediatrics and is current president of the Irish Medical Council.

For this week’s episode Professor Harkin has a discussion with Dr Crowe around advocacy.

Together they discuss the right and accessibility to quality healthcare, protection of the vulnerable and empowerment of the disadvantaged.

“Having your patient’s back...”


Dr Suzanne Crowe was first elected to the Medical Council in 2018 and re-elected in 2023. Dr Crowe was elected as President of the Medical Council in 2021.

Dr Crowe graduated in Medicine from Trinity College Dublin, followed by specialist training in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine with the College of Anaesthesiologists. After a Fellowship in Paediatric Intensive Care Medicine in the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne she took up a consultant post in Anaesthesia with a Special Interest in Paediatrics in Tallaght Hospital, Dublin.

In 2014 Dr Crowe moved to Children’s Health Ireland Crumlin Hospital as a Paediatric Intensivist. She is a Senior Lecturer in Paediatrics in Trinity College Dublin and has an interest in bereavement studies and medical ethics. She is Associate Clinical Professor in UCD School of Medicine in the division of Women and Children’s Health. Dr Crowe is a board trustee for three charities, the Down Syndrome Centre, Cheshire Ireland and LGBT Ireland.

Season 1, Episode 3: Empathy with Professor Pat Dolan

Pat Dolan headshot, black and white.Professor Pat Dolan holds the prestigious UNESCO Chair in Children, Youth & Civic Engagement, the first in the Republic of Ireland.

He has completed an extensive body of research on family issues and co-edited the book Ionbhá: The Empathy Book for Ireland.

In this week's episode Professor Dolan and host Professor Denis Harkin have an informative discussion on the valuable topic of empathy. 

“What oils the empathy engine is time and listening...”


Professor Pat Dolan is UNESCO Chair in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement at the University of Galway, the first awarded in the Republic of Ireland.

As UNESCO Chair he developed a comprehensive programme of work to improve civic engagement and leadership skills among children and youth known as the Youth As Researchers (YAR) Programme. He has completed extensive research on empathy education for theory policy and practice.

Prof. Dolan is Director of the Institute for Lifecourse and Society at the University of Galway. He has completed a multitude of research and academic publications on children, youth, and family issues, having over 100 peer-reviewed academic publications.

Pat Dolan has extensive practice and policy experience, nationally and internationally.

Season 1, Episode 2: Unprofessional Behaviours with Professor Johanna Westbrook

Prof Johanna WestbrookUnprofessionalism can be understood as behaviours below or contrary to the standards expected of the medical profession. In this episode, Professor Denis Harkin speaks with Professor Joanna Westbrook, Director for Centre for Health Systems and Safety Research at the Institution of Health Innovation at Macquaire University, Sydney, Australia.

Together they discuss unprofessionalism along with the effects of information and communication technology in healthcare. 

“To recognise that positive behaviours may also be incredibly effective at changing cultures”

Professor Johanna Westbrook, PhD, FTSE, FAIDH, FACMI, FIAHSI, is Director of the Centre for Health Systems and Safety Research, Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Macquarie University.

She is internationally recognised for her research evaluating the effects of ICT in health care, which has led to significant advances in our understanding of how clinical information systems deliver (or fail to deliver) expected benefits. Her highly applied research has supported translation of this evidence into policy, practice, and IT system design changes. She presented to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety regarding the contribution that ICT can make in improving quality.

Prof Westbrook has recently been working with a large health care provider to evaluate a multi-hospital organisational culture change intervention designed to reduce unprofessional behaviour between hospital staff.  

Prof Westbrook has received several awards for her research. In 2014 she was named Australian ICT professional of the year, in 2019 as the national research leader in the field of medical informatics and in 2022 she was awarded the Health Services Research Award by Research Australia and a Telstra Health Brilliant Women in Digital Health Award. Johanna has over 500 publications and been awarded >$50M in research grants.

In 2019 she received the Elizabeth Blackburn Investigator Award from the NHMRC. In 2020 Westbrook was appointed as a Co-Director of the Safety, Quality and Informatics Leadership program, by the Harvard Medical School. 

Season 1, Episode 1: Non-maleficence with Dr Henry Marsh

Dr Henry Marsh

Welcome to Professionalism Matters!

For our first episode, Professor Denis Harkin speaks with Dr Henry Marsh CBE, senior consultant neurosurgeon, pioneer of neurosurgery advances in Ukraine, and author.


Together they have an enlightening discussion on the principle ‘First, Do No Harm’, in which Dr Marsh shares some very honest reflections on his extensive career as a surgeon.

“It’s impossible as a surgeon to never do any harm...”

Henry Marsh graduated with a first-class degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics at the University of Oxford and then studied Medicine in London, graduating with honours in 1973. He subsequently trained as a neurosurgeon.

He was the senior consultant neurosurgeon at Atkinson Morleys/St George's for 25 years, where he pioneered awake craniotomy techniques for intrinsic brain tumours. His work has been the subject of two major BBC documentaries – Your Life in their Hands in 2003, and The English Surgeon in 2009 about his work in Ukraine over the last 30 years. The latter film has won many awards including an Emmy, and was described in The New York Times as "Enthralling, astonishing... agonisingly human", and in the London Times as “the most moving and honest film about surgery I have ever seen”.

His first book, Do No Harm, is an international bestseller with 37 foreign editions and translations:

  • “Neurosurgery has found its Boswell” -Ian McEwen.
  • 'Riveting... extraordinarily intimate, compassionate and sometimes frightening -(Michiko Kakatani, New York Times.
  • “Why has no one ever written a book like this before? … what a bloody, splendid book” -The Guardian.
  • “When a book starts like this – ‘I often have to cut into the brain and it is something I hate doing’ – you have to go on reading…” -Karl Ove Knausgaard, Financial Times.

The book was short-listed for eight major UK literary prizes and won both the Sky Arts South Bank Show 2015 Award for Literature and the PEN Ackerley Prize. In 2017 he published a second book, Admissions, which became a Sunday Times No 1 bestseller in the UK, and in 2022 a third book, And Finally, which has also been a Sunday Times bestseller.

Since retiring from the NHS in 2018 he has continued to work in Ukraine, Nepal and Albania.

He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 2010.