Training for interpersonal communication skills relevant to neurological practice in South Africa
Moodley, Anandan A.
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Training in proper communication between doctor and patient is not a requirement for the training of neurologists in South Africa. This is not the case in neurology training in countries such as Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia, where communication is taught and tested in the final neurology examination. The aim of this study was to assess how qualified neurologists and neurology doctors in training (registrars) view their ability to communicate with patients, and how they view such communication as an item in the neurology-training syllabus. The researcher conducted a survey to investigate the opinions of neurology doctors by using a questionnaire completed either via the internet or on printed forms. The target groups were neurology registrars and qualified neurologists working in private practice, public and academic hospitals. The results of this study will be made available to the seven neurology-training units in South Africa, as well as the College of Neurology, which is the neurology examining body of the College of Medicine of South Africa. The study found that neurology registrars and qualified neurologists are not adequately skilled in communication and, therefore, the study will motivate for the introduction of proper training and testing of communication in the objectively structured clinical examination of the final neurology exam. After all, if students are not tested in doctor-patient communication, it is unlikely that they will possess the required skills in doctor-patient communication.