As a person who just recently started working in Dave’s lab, it is very evident that interpersonal skills are highly valued here. With this, it does not surprise me that he has conducted this survey. At various conferences and presentations, he asked the audience members to visualize the best clinician they know; it may be yourself or a role model, or what you would expect a good clinician to be. He then gave the members his cell phone number and asked that they send him a text with the qualities they believe make that person a good clinician. He’s been conducting this for over three years, and in these past few days, I have sifted through approximately 1000 responses and categorized them into 21 different categories. Although not a scientific study, this thematic analysis below confirms that majority of responders value a range of skills which I find interesting, only a few of which are focused on the technical skills of doing what I’d think of as good physiotherapy.
Only four knowledge-based categories appeared, including knowledgeable/lifelong learner, critical thinker, creative, skillful and evidence-based, making up 24% of the qualities above. This means that the rest can be classified as interpersonal skills, or social skills, which make up 76% of qualities. The most frequent answers of the social skills are kindness, empathic and the ability to be a good listener.
So what differs from a good clinician to a great clinician? Based on these responses, the way to becoming a great clinician is the ability to develop a relationship with the client, and to have exceptional social and interpersonal skills. As mentioned in Dave’s previous blog of “What makes a ‘Good Physio’”, there is evidence that contradicts the analysis of this survey, where there is said to be a 50/50 split between the contribution to treatment effectiveness between the technical skills of the clinician and the relationship they have with the patient. While the responses are heavily in favor of social skills, the technical skills and knowledge of a clinician seem still quite important.
Dave’s blog on this topic was posted in April of 2016, where he had over 400 responses. With more than double the input, the same conclusions can be drawn. Some of the largest categories were communication skills, empathy and understanding, and knowledge and evidence-based treatments. This holds true three years later, and size of the knowledge-based categories and size of interpersonal skills-based categories remains constant.
The results of this analysis suggest that clinicians need to be given the opportunity to develop their technical (instrumental) skills as well as their interpersonal skills, as the interpersonal-skills are very recognizable within the environment.