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Please give me some guidance on the GMC guidance: Domain 3

By Usman Nasir

Welcome back to the penultimate article of this series, where we are going to have a look at domain 3 of the GMC guidance. If you haven’t already, check out the first 3 articles of this series and then come back to this one to learn about domain 3.

Now, let us get started on domain 3: Communication, partnership and teamwork

What does the GMC say in domain 3?

This domain is slightly longer than the first 2 and is split into 5 strands, rather than 3. It has several themes that run through its contents and we will go through each of them in detail. One of the first messages it conveys is making sure that doctors understand the importance of communicating effectively with their patients to form a strong relationship built on trust.

Secondly, teamwork is a huge part of Medicine and this is best exemplified by the multi-disciplinary team. Many healthcare professionals are involved in a patient’s care, so doctors need to work effectively as part of a team to offer the best care. As well as this, learning and improvement is a big part of Medicine so doctors should contribute to teaching and mentoring other members of the clinical team, particularly more junior members.

We will go break down each of the 5 strands in more detail:

  • Communicating effectively

  • Working collaboratively with colleagues

  • Teaching, training, supporting, and assessing

  • Continuity and coordination of care

  • Establish and maintain partnerships with patients

1. Communicate effectively

Communication is a vital aspect of a career in Medicine. A doctor must be able to convey information honestly to their patient in way that is clear and easy to understand. This helps to build a strong relationship and makes the patient feel more at ease when opening about their views, care needs and what they are going through. A doctor needs to use their communication effectively so they can treat the patient holistically and consider all aspects of their life. Patients also tend to present to healthcare institutions with family members or friends, so doctors need to also consider their views and offer support to the people around the patient through communication. As well as this, patients come from a variety of different cultures/backgrounds and communicate in different languages. This must always be respected, and arrangements should be made to meet their language needs.

How could you use this strand in your interviews?

Make sure you understand the importance of communication in a doctor-patient relationship. Why is this important? A brief answer to this is that it helps the patient feel more comfortable opening up about their views. If a doctor does not show good communication, then the patient may feel uncomfortable and may therefore withhold important information – poor communication could therefore risk patient care. Think and reflect upon times in your work experience/volunteering where you have seen good communication. Think and reflect upon times in your work experience/volunteering where you may have seen poor communication. Think of an example where you have shown good communication.

2. Working collaboratively with colleagues

From a physiotherapist to an occupational therapist, several members of the multi-disciplinary team can be involved in a patient’s care. They all play a vital part in the patient’s journey, so it is paramount that the doctor works effectively as a part of this team, so the patient has the best possible experience. This means that doctors must always respect their colleagues and work with them. Doctors must also always set a good example with their behaviour as this promotes a healthy team environment for all healthcare professionals. This is achieved by showing colleagues respect and recognising their expertise and skills.

How could you use this strand in your interviews?

Make sure you recognise the importance of the multidisciplinary team. Research the different members of the multidisciplinary team and their roles to give yourself some background knowledge. Why is teamwork important in Medicine? Think and reflect upon times in your work experience/volunteering where you have seen teamwork in action. Think of an example where you have worked well in a team. What happened? How did it impact the situation?

3. Teaching, training, and supporting and assessing

This strand also centres around the idea of working with colleagues and being a team player. Doctors have a duty to share their knowledge and experience with their colleagues and that is why teaching plays such an important role within medicine. Doctors should contribute to the teaching, training, and mentoring of their colleagues, particularly more junior members. This promotes the idea of learning and self-improvement and this contributes to constantly raising the standard of care for patients. Junior colleagues need to be given the chance to learn as much as they can so they can become the best healthcare professionals they can be. So, doctors should try and facilitate this as much as they can.

How could you use this strand in your interviews?

Why do you think it is important for doctors and healthcare professionals to teach more junior colleagues? Have you ever seen this in action during one of your work experience/volunteering opportunities? Have you ever taken on a role where you have taught or supported people?

4. Continuity and coordination of care

I think this strand links together with the strand titled “Working collaboratively with colleagues”. Patients are often transferred between healthcare providers and professionals during their care. So, it is a doctor’s responsibility to ensure that they facilitate this transfer safely and carefully. This includes handing over the patient with accurate, clear, and up to date to ensure that the next healthcare professional has all the information they need to provide the best possible care.

How could you use this strand in your interviews?

Make sure you understand the importance of working in a team in daily life and the medical profession. Find out a bit more about a “handover” in the medical setting. What happens? How is it facilitated? Have you seen an example of a “handover” in your work experience/volunteering?

5. Establish and maintain partnerships with patients

I think this links well with the first strand of this domain: “Communicate effectively”. It is all about the doctor-patient relationship and how to maintain this in healthcare. Doctors should always treat their patients with dignity and respect. They should always treat their patients as people, not just a new case. I think this is one of the most important things to remember in medicine. This is at the core of helping and making a difference. The GMC also strongly encourages doctors to keep patients in the loop for all aspects of their care (i.e. next steps in their care, who they are going to be referred to, the progression of their illness etc.). It is important that patients receive all the information they need and want to know in their care. All their personal information should also be kept confidential and patients should be given the tools to look after their own health. Doctors should encourage their patients to take charge of their care and health.

How could you use this strand in your interviews?

Make sure you understand the importance of the doctor-patient relationship? Why is it important? Think of some examples where you have seen it in action during your work experience/volunteering. Think about some techniques that doctors use to build that relationship using their communication. Have a quick revision of confidentiality. How do you think doctors could encourage their patients to take control of their own health and wellbeing?

So that was domain 3 of the GMC series. Thanks for joining me and hope you enjoyed this article.

Next up…

Domain 4: Maintaining Trust (last domain – we’re nearly there everyone!)


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