Role of the Doctor

5 May 2017

A strong grounding in relevant science and in clinical practice as well as providing opportunities to develop an appreciation for research. Doctors must have the ability to assimilate new knowledge critically, have strong intellectual skills and grasp of scientific principles and be capable of dealing effectively with and of managing uncertainty, ambiguity and complexity. They must have the capacity to work out solutions from first principles when the pattern does not fit.

All doctors must be emonstrably committed to reflective practice, monitoring their contribution and working continually to improve their own and their team’s performance. Doctors must all be committed to playing a part in the education and support of the next generation of medical practitioners and of facilitating the advancement of evidence based practice. The doctor needs to be capable of assessing and managing risk; this requires high level decision making skills and the ability to work outside defined protocols when circumstances demand.

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Doctors must also be able to make informed ecisions about when supportive care is more appropriate for the patient than intervention. The doctor must possess the ability to work effectively as a member of a healthcare team, recognising and respecting the skills and attributes of other professions and of patients. Patients with long term and disabling conditions are particularly likely to be experts in their own condition and should be supported to keep as healthy and independent as possible.

All doctors have a role in the maintenance and promotion of population health, hrough evidence based practice. Some will enhance the health of the population through taking on roles in health education or research, service improvement and re- design, in public health and through health advocacy. Notwithstanding the primacy of the individual doctor:patient relationship, the doctor must appreciate the needs of the patient in the context of the wider health needs of the population. For all doctors the patient must come first but they will achieve this in different ways and in different settings.

As the critical decision maker with responsibility for significant health resources the doctor must be capable of both management and leadership and of taking ultimate responsibility for clinical decisions. Within a world where the capacity to treat is growing but financial resources are finite, doctors have a duty to use resources wisely and effectively and engage in constructive debate about such use. They should ensure that their own and others’ skills and knowledge are deployed to best possible effect.

Doctors have a key role in enhancing clinical ervices through their positions of responsibility. Some will move on from clinical leadership and management to leadership roles within organisations at various levels – service, institutional, national and international. The role of the doctor is changing and will continue to change alongside the needs and expectations of patients. Patients are increasingly better informed and act as partners in their own healthcare. The doctor serves as advisor, interpreter and supporter in this endeavour. This statement has the support of:

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