Good communication skills can mask deficiencies
- By: Allan Cumming
The innate characteristics of a good doctor are beneficence and the capacity to engage with the knowledge necessary for informed practice. Beyond this basic level I believe that good doctors are made. Education should enable students to bridge the gaps between their ability and their “unconscious competence.” The increasing emphasis on generic clinical skills in undergraduate curriculums is highly appropriate. But there is a risk that students who learn to communicate superbly are deficient in other respects that may not be detected. Bad communication can be immensely harmful. However, medical schools must also ensure that graduates are equipped to provide good, safe patient care across a broad range of competencies.