Time management and dealing with uncertainty are common themes throughout GP training. Difficulties with time management and running late are common for both GP registrars and GP supervisors. Not keeping to time can be stressful and frustrating for both patients and doctors alike.
So, can we teach GP registrars time management? Is it an inherent or a learned skill? How can we help our registrar (and ourselves) keep to time?
I shall be running a workshop on teaching Time Management for GP registrars at the Supervisor Professional Development Workshop at the International Convention Centre in Sydney on 22 June. Whilst putting this workshop together I have been reminded of the importance of observing our registrars to help them improve not only their consultation skills but also their time management skills.
One of my previous registrars in my practice asked me for advice on how to keep to time. The registrar voiced concerns of struggling with complex patients presenting with a multitude of psycho-social issues (often not identified until some way into the consultation). I sat in with the registrar for a series of consultations with the specific focus of giving feedback on time management.
Some solutions to improve time management were obvious, such as making sure you start on time and to familiarise yourself with the patient record prior to calling the patient in. One of the main reflections on trying to improve my registrar’s time management was actually giving the patient time – time to allow them to tell their story in the first ‘golden minute’ of the consultation. This allows the doctor to identify the reason for attendance, is patient focused and leads well to screening for other problems. This approach avoids the ‘rolling agenda’ of a patient presenting with several issues they wish to discuss. In addition, it allows the GP to prioritise and signpost less important issues to be dealt with more comprehensively in subsequent attendances. Without direct observation of the registrar this problem would not have been so easily identified.
There are many other hints and tips to help GP registrars with their time management, a common registrar problem. I want to highlight the significance of observing our registrars consult to help find solutions to this and other problems.
I hope you will be able to join me at the workshop in June where this will be explored further.
Richard Griffiths | Senior Medical Educator