How do I know how effective my consultation skills are now?

There are several approaches you can take to assess your practice. Self-assessment is useful , but used in isolation it has limitations; you may find it a challenge to be subjective and your outcomes may be influenced by your own state of mind at the time of the assessment.1 That is why we have outlined a stepwise approach below, which will take you through a complete cycle, from personal reflection, to considering feedback from your peers, other healthcare professionals and, more importantly, patients and finally, observation of practice, which helps you to identify good practice, versus practice that needs improvement.

We recommend you visit each of the following steps set out below.

Use the medication-related consultation framework (MRCF)2 as your starting point, working through it to self-assess your current skills and behaviours. The MRCF is a professionally recognised validated tool, which will help you identify your individual strengths and any areas where you need to develop your skills and behaviours and improve your technique. Although this tool was initially developed for the medicines consultation you can adapt it to any of your consultations. Familiarise yourself with the MRCF, work through it the next time you conduct a patient consultation; it will also help you think about the structure of your consultation. You can access a PDF version of the MRCF by clicking on the link opposite. When you are supporting people with public health interventions you may find the following tool useful: An implementation guide and toolkit for making every contact count .3

Feedback from your pharmacy colleagues and fellow healthcare professionals provides good insight into how others perceive your skills and behaviour. It is a great way to share new ideas, tips and points of good practice.

Consider asking a colleague to sit in on one of the consultations you conduct. (You will need permission from the patient and possibly your employer to do this.) We have included two tools (below) which your colleague can complete to provide feedback on your consultation. You could also ask to sit in on a consultation of one of your colleagues. Remember there is no perfect way to conduct the consultation, everyone has their own style, but observing colleagues in practice can be a real eye opener when reflecting on your own skills and behaviours.

Observation form: This observation form provides a broader perspective of the consultation and can help to highlight points of good practice, as well as skills and behaviours that could be improved.

The MRCF: You can access a PDF copy of the MRCF at the tab opposite.

Patient feedback on the consultation can be invaluable. The patient is the only person who can tell you if they felt that their own ideas and concerns were acknowledged, that they were involved in decision making and that they were a true partner in the discussion.

We have provided two patient questionnaires, one relating to a medicines consultation and another which relates to a public health consultation, as well as a guide to support you in collecting patient feedback. You can access these at the links below.

A guide to collecting patient feedback

Patient questionnaire – medicines-related consultation

Patient questionnaire – public health intervention

Although we have encouraged you to observe your colleagues in practice, we recognise the challenges of doing this during the working day. Applying video critique of a consultation is another useful method of observing practice. Work through the video observation form below as you watch the video. Identify the points of good practice and any areas that you feel would benefit from improvement; then compare your thoughts with our suggestions.

Access the video observation form here and then watch and critique this video consultation .

See our suggested critique here.