Pre-Reg Oriel Pharmacy SJT Guide: Consultation Skills Questions

Advice & Insight From Pre-Registration Recruitment Exam Specialists

The second set of attributes in the attributes framework for trainee pharmacists is Communication and Consultation Skills. Here, we’re focusing specifically on the consultation, and on consultation skills. For questions on communication with team members, look at the guide on Communication Skills.

Pre-Reg Oriel Pharmacy SJT Guide: An Overview of Questions

While many questions will feature patient encounters, actual consultations are less common in situational judgement tests. That’s because a typical consultation would be of little interest, and there needs to be some particular feature that makes the consultation stand out – a particular issue, in other words. Previous examples include patients who require someone else to translate on their behalf, patients who are particularly unhappy with the care that they are receiving, patients who are seeking your help but are worried about what their family might think if they find out that they are ill, or patients who have asked for your help and then reveal during the consultation that another professional hasn’t provided adequate care. 

Pre-Reg Oriel Pharmacy SJT Guide: Example Questions & Process

Let’s imagine that you are given a question in which your patient speaks very limited English. This is a question that has occurred numerous times before across SJTs, often involving a family member as well – who does speak English. Here, you’ll need to consider that getting accurate information from the patient is a foremost concern – which means that you have to get a translator to help. You can’t rely on the relative, and nor can you try to communicate information yourself. Alternatively, if you were posed a question in which a patient becomes distressed over the course of the consultation, then your focus would be on building a rapport with the patient, listening actively, and ensuring that the information that you provide to them can be readily understood. Throughout, you should look for options that emphasise clear and empathetic communication, avoid close questions or being blunt, and that ensure that patients can understand you – through the use of simple language and through checking as you go. 

Pre-Reg Oriel Pharmacy SJT Guide: Specific Attributes Explored

There are many attributes relevant here.

2.1 Adapts approach, language or communication style for audience and across a variety of contexts

You should consider who your patient is – that means you’d be expected to speak differently to a patient who was a surgeon than to a patient who was a layperson, and this could be made clear through options.

2.4 Seeks confirmation of understanding when communicating, clarifying where necessary

This may well be an option in a ‘choose three from eight’ scenario. If prompted, ‘confirming the patient’s understanding throughout’ or similar is a sensible and safe option.

2.5 Elicits accurate and relevant information from individuals

You may be left with half a story from a consultation, and therefore be required to explore further. Always ensure that you get all the information if you have any concerns that something is missing.

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2.6 Provides accurate and clear information and advice to people receiving care and colleagues

If you don’t know something, you need to confirm it and then return to the patient, or admit that you aren’t sure. Don’t lie to patients or obfuscate. That means that you should choose options that include checking notes or speaking to others about the case where appropriate if you don’t know the answer to a patient’s question.

2.7 Instils confidence in others through communication style

This is less relevant for an SJT.

2.8 Effectively builds rapport with individuals; asks open questions and facilitates a two-way dialogue

The use of open questions is vital, and you should always allow the patient to speak and ask what’s on their mind.

2.9 Breaks down complex information in a way that can be easily understood by others

As stated above, you should avoid jargon and speak in a manner that can be readily understood by a layperson. If an option suggests that you simplify information to a layperson patient, then it is likely to be a good one to select.

2.10 Actively listens to others; is focussed and attentive to what they have to say (NHS Values 4)

Make it clear that you care about what the patient has to say – don’t leave before bringing the consultation to a satisfactory close. That means prioritising options that continue the discussion.

2.12 Ensures has the relevant information before communicating

This is similar to 2.6 – don’t enter a consultation without relevant information.

Pre-Reg Oriel Pharmacy SJT Guide: Consultation Skills Questions

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