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Plans afoot to boost doctors’ communication and leadership skills

Views sought on new framework for generic professional capabilities

Caroline White

Monday, 06 July 2015

The General Medical Council (GMC), and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC) have launched a public consultation on making doctors better professionals, communicators, and leaders.

The views of doctors, employers and the general public are being sought on a proposed framework for generic professional capabilities, including the outcomes that all doctors will have to demonstrate by the end of their postgraduate specialty training.

Many curricula promote professionalism; but coverage of professional elements within these curricula remains variable. The new framework promotes a consistent approach across all postgraduate training.

The framework clarifies the core knowledge, skills and behaviours which doctors need and which are common across all medical specialties, such as effective communication, teamworking and patient-centred decision making.

These, and other key capabilities, described in the framework are essential for safe, high quality clinical care and will support doctors’ development as high performing, compassionate and caring professionals, says the professional regulator.

The GMC and the AoMRC will explore how the generic framework can be incorporated into all stages of training.

Niall Dickson, GMC chief executive commented: “UK trained doctors are valued and recognised across the world for their technical expertise. But alongside this it is vital that every senior doctor has the personal and professional insights and capabilities to deliver, lead and manage high quality care in complex teams, often in stressful environments or rapidly changing clinical circumstances.

“Patients rightly expect doctors to be good team players, have situational awareness and where necessary to provide effective leadership - they also expect their doctors to be professional, principled and expert communicators.”

He added that other safety critical industries, such as aviation, have significantly improved their training and performance by developing insights into these critical aspects of human behaviour and performance.

“There is evidence that an awareness of these human factors and associated generic professional capabilities improve professional practice. By acknowledging, encouraging and embedding the development of these high level professional insights, skills and capabilities into medical training, there is an expectation that we can promote and enable a higher and more consistent level of care for patients,” he said.

Clinical skills, although absolutely vital, were not enough on their own to guarantee excellent care for patients, he added.

“Good doctors need effective communication skills, to be able to work in teams and act as professional leaders as well as understanding the context and ethics that underpin healthcare. All these skills are required to make a doctor an effective professional,” said Dr JP van Besouw, Chair of the Academy’s Education Strategy Committee.

“It is therefore really important that we identify the right range of these generic attributes that all doctors whether a GP, a hospital doctor or a psychiatrist need to have.

The GPC consultation will run until 22 September 2015.

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