Conscientious, competent and caring: producing the junior doctor of the future

Mclachlan, John Charles orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-5493-2645, Sawdon, Marina, Finn, Gabrielle and Fleming, Karen (2023) Conscientious, competent and caring: producing the junior doctor of the future. British Journal of Hospital Medicine . ISSN 1750-8460

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This article is based on the Association for the Study of Medical Education Gold Medal Plenary for 2022, given by the first author. It outlines different ways in which medical training can be approached, based on his career and his work with colleagues. Among the attributes that it would be desirable to promote in future doctors are conscientiousness, competence and care for patients as individuals. This article explores each of these in separate sections. The first demonstrates that the trait of conscientiousness can be observed in first and second year medical students by their compliance in routine low level tasks such as attendance and submission of required work on time. A ‘conscientiousness index’ calculated on this basis is a statistically significant predictor of later events such as performance in exams, the prescribing safety assessment, and the UK situational judgement test in subsequent years, and also in postgraduate assessments such as Royal college exams and the annual reviews of competence progression. The second proposes that competence in tasks undertaken by junior doctors is better achieved by teaching on medical imaging, clinical skills and living anatomy than by cadaveric dissection. The final section argues that the incorporation of arts and humanities teaching into medical education is likely to lead to better understanding of the patient perspective in later practice.

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