By Dr Katie Powell
Lead for Clinical Methods and Senior Lecturer
The huge advances in technology and medical knowledge today and in the future will obviously impact our working lives. However, I believe that the core principles of being a doctor – those of essential clinical skills and patient-centred care – will remain the foundation of medicine.
Patients want to be cared for, listened to and feel able to trust their healthcare provider – to be safe in the knowledge that despite being at their most vulnerable, they can entrust their care to someone who will absolutely put their best interests first.
Up-to-date medical knowledge which is appropriately applied and integrity are essential to achieve this. But these will feel meaningless and even ineffective to the patient if the necessary skills to manage the consultation in a patient-centred way are lacking.
Our students are learning from a very early stage of their training – in their clinical practice course and long-term patient project – to consult in the most effective way possible, and to interact professionally to gain as much insight as possible. What is important is that they remember these fundamental skills as they go through their training and beyond.
It will be easy to forget the first time they spoke to a patient, how it feels to realise that each patient has a story and a life beyond the consultation room and to be aware of the impact that healthcare has on a patient’s life. Balancing this with requesting the correct investigation, reaching a correct diagnosis, choosing the correct medication, defining a mutually agreeable management plan and accepting a level of risk can of course be difficult and will take time to develop expertise in.
However, no matter how many advances and innovations occur, it is the basic human interaction between Doctor and Patient that lies at the heart of the process.