A Registrar Survival Guide - Video recording your consultations

You probably think that watching videos of yourself is more embarrassing than educational, but when used as a tool for reflecting on consultation skills, it can be invaluable.

Trainers and colleagues can give you feedback on your bad habits, but without seeing them for yourself you are less likely to be able to acknowledge or address the habits.

Until 2007, video recording was used as part of the summative assessment for the old MRCGP examination. Now trainees do not submit videos, because consultation skills are evaluated using workplace-based assessment and the clinical skills assessment (CSA), but that does not mean we should stop recording our consultations. So how can you use video recording to improve your consultation skills?

Begin recording early on in your training
Start recording early in your registrar training to allow time for development. The more you do it, the more comfortable you will become being filmed.

Ensure the patient consents
Make sure you spend time explaining the process to the patient and make sure that they sign an approved consent form - these are available via your deanery website.

Store recordings and keep notes
Keep your recordings stored on your camera or hard drive. Keep a note about each consultation that outlines the pros and cons of the consultation, as well as points for improvement.

This is useful when looking back at interesting and informative consultations.

Essentials checklist
  • Reliable camera with USB adaptor, tripod and good microphone.
  • Determination to stick with it - even if you hate watching yourself, it will pay off.
  • An open mind - being analytical is the only way to identify weaknesses and improve.

Record at regular times
Try recording at a regular time each week - this means you are more likely to stick to it and allows patients and staff to become familiar with the routine.

Include challenging cases
Do not worry if the cases you record are more challenging - these will provide more material for reflection, and you may well have achieved more competencies than you thought.

Analyse yourself against COT/CSA criteria
Analyse your videos with reference to the consultation observation tool (COT) or CSA marking criteria.

If you identify areas in which you are consistently weaker, for example picking up cues, using medical jargon and so on, you can focus on these areas in your consultations before your next recording.

Gradually, you will find yourself becoming more confident in the different areas of the marking domains.

  • Contributed by Dr Shoba Poduval, a GP registrar in Essex

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