The dedicated doctor: Executive summary

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Details of the objectives and background of the RCP project Professionalism: The dedicated doctor.

Aims and objectives

This project aims to evaluate the role of professionalism in modern healthcare and make recommendations for future practice.

The objectives underpinning this aim are:

  1. to identify the aspects of professionalism more relevant to practising doctors and the patients and public they serve
  2. to describe the barriers to professionalism and the context in which they occur
  3. to present the evidence of the impact of professionalism on patient care
  4. to make recommendations for future practice
  5. to establish areas for further research (project schematic, figures 1a, 1b, 1c, 1d).  

Previous work

The proposition for The dedicated doctor arose from the findings of previous pioneering work by the RCP. In 2005, the RCP publication Doctors in society: medical professionalism in an ever changing world defined medical professionalism as 'a set of values, behaviours and relationships that underpin the trust the public has in doctors'.

This work was described by the authors as an initial stepping stone in characterising the profession’s role in society. Future physician: changing doctors in changing times, published in 2010, outlined the context in which healthcare is likely to be delivered over the next 20 years and the impact on the profession.

The 2016 report by the General Medical Council’s (GMC), Medical professionalism matters, highlighted some of the challenges that doctors in practice experience. The dedicated doctor aims to address these concerns by providing or suggesting solutions to the problems and conflicts experienced.

Purpose of this work

The purpose of this work is to develop and promote an understanding of medical professionalism, relevant to the context in which doctors currently practice while considering the complexities and conflicts of the future. This work also aims to restore an emphasis on meaningful, challenging, rewarding work and restore pride, joy and confidence in the profession.

Improving patient care

Patient care is influenced by a range of interconnecting factors however the professionalism displayed by an attending doctor is often pivotal to their experience and interpretation after that. Promoting and developing the attributes of medical professionalism, as defined by patients, will enhance the caregiving experience for both the clinician and the patient, restoring trust and confidence in the relationship.

Developing clinicians

The GMC determines the professional standards for doctors in the form of good medical practice. Professionalism is the ideals or values through which professional standards are interpreted and in turn these values are displayed in the professional’s behaviours, attitudes or relationships.

The dedicated doctor seeks to:

  1. aid doctors in understanding the role of medical professionalism in everyday practice and the impact it has upon fulfilment, effectiveness and engagement
  2. enable physicians to reflect upon their own practice and signpost useful resources
  3. guide RCP priorities in working on behalf of its members to promote the highest standards of professionalism.

Shaping the future of health and healthcare

What will think of as the great doctor in the future? What are the values, attitudes and behaviours that will underpin the trustworthiness of the future professional? In answering these questions, The dedicated doctor lays the foundations for the medical profession to positively shape the future of health and healthcare.

Project partcipants

  • Professor Jane Dacre, president of the Royal College of Physicians, professor of medical education
  • Sir Ernest Ryder, lord justice of appeal and senior president of tribunals
  • Dame Carole Black, principle of Newham College Cambridge, senior policy advisor on work and health to the British government, chair of the board of the Nuffield Trust
  • Baroness Julia Cumberledge, CBE DL, House of Lords
  • Ms Elisabeth Davies, chair and a founding member of the Legal Services Consumer Panel; Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman - chair; deputy chief executive, Arthritis Care – chair
  • Professor Terence Stephenson, chair of the General Medical Council
  • Ms Claire Marx, past president Royal College of Surgeons
  • Sir Robert Francis, QC
  • Ms. Kate Rohde, partner Kingsley Napley LLP
  • Professor Sir Cyril Chantler, honorary fellow and emeritus chairman of UCLPartners Academic Health Science Partnership. Chairman Complex Primary Care Practice Programme Board BHR. 
  • Sir Robert Francis, QC
  • Dr Therese Feiler, AHRC post-doctoral researcher Healthcare Values Partnership, Faculty of Theology and Religion; research fellow, Harris Manchester College University of Oxford
  • Professor Joshua Hordern, lecturer in theology, Jesus College; associate professor of Christian ethics
  • Mr Peter Lees, chief executive officer and medical director, Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management
  • Sir Denis Pereira Gray, general practitioner. Awarded the gold medal of the Hunterian Society, London, the gold medal of the Royal Institute of Public Health, and honorary doctorates by three British universities
  • Ms Kirsty Allen, Kingsley Napley LLP
  • Professor David Black, medical director, Joint Royal Colleges of Physicians Training Board
  • Professor David Haslam, chair of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence
  • Dr Toby Hillman, lead consultant for pleural service, UCLH. Consultant physician and previous Darzi fellow.
  • Dr John Boylan, National Medical Director’s clinical fellow
  • Dr Clive Weston, reader in clinical medicine, and deputy head of the College of Medicine, at Swansea University, consultant cardiologist
  • Dr YeeYen Goh, national medical director’s clinical fellow, ST3 neurology
  • Dr Mark Spence, consultant interventional cardiologist and co-founder of the Structural Heart Disease Programme, honorary senior lecturer Queens University Belfast, consultant cardiologist
  • Mr Luke Austen, medical student
  • Mr Nick Cork, medical student