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The cost of solitude – the effect of professional isolation on performance. Ian St George Medical adviser, Medical Council of New Zealand. Ian St George MD FRACP FRNZCGP DipEd Medical Council of New Zealand. Professional isolation adversely affects clinical performance.

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ian st george medical adviser medical council of new zealand

The cost of solitude –the effect of professional isolation on performance

Ian St George

Medical adviser,

Medical Council of New Zealand

Ian St George MD FRACP FRNZCGP DipEd

Medical Council of New Zealand

slide2
Professional isolation adversely affects clinical performance.

Lewkonia R. Educational implications of practice isolation. Medical Education 2001; 35: 528-529

slide3
In New Zealand, general practitioners who were not vocationally registered (i.e. not registered as specialists) were more likely to be performing at a substandard level than their vocationally registered peers.

St George IM. Should all general practitioners be vocationally registered? NZ Family Physician 2004; 31: 17-19.

slide5
email survey
  • 26 experienced performance assessors and members of the Medical Council of New Zealand’s Competence Advisory Team
  • list & describe markers of professional isolation, and to ascribe a weight (1 = unimportant, 5 = very important) to each.
slide7
Personality and behaviour (4.6): Ranges from self-sufficient, independent personality, through lack of insight, self importance, lack of humility (arrogance), to work attitude such as “I know it all anyway, I have no need to engage colleagues in discussion”, “I don’t like change, so I will avoid it”, suspiciousness and difficulties in accepting feedback, to inappropriate physical or sexual behaviour, aggressiveness or bullying, and personality disorder.
slide8
Solo practice (4.4): Prolonged solo rural or geographically isolated practice of any kind, including specialist or rural GP; specialist in small provincial city particularly when the doctor chooses to do this – and especially people who choose to work as solo practitioners in urban areas.
slide9
Poor colleague relationships (4): “Difficult” doctor who does not establish local or national collegial relationships; awkward, unlikeable person; poor communicator; not a member of professional group (e.g. college).
slide10
Outlier practice (4): Doctors displaying or expressing techniques or beliefs outside current accepted practice, such as engaging in complementary or alternative medicine; advertising; selling potions; overprescribing, over-investigating.
slide11
MOPS or CME failure (3.9): Doctorfails to attain education points, has done minimum continuing professional development (CPD) in the last two years, is an irregular or infrequent attender at regular group meetings (eg audit, morbidity and mortality meetings), has limited access to peer reviews and grand rounds, or cannot because of isolation attend colleague discussions; outdated technology – no Net access or email contact with colleagues.
slide12
Specialist in only private practice (3.5).
  • Stress, no relief, complaints, job dissatisfaction (3.5): Serious, continuing emotional stress (family, work, financial) or health concerns; drug use; on 1:2 call with limited locum cover or no locums available; fatigue through work overload; a tragic patient outcome or patient complaints; job dissatisfaction; has fallen out with, or has unsupportive employer; uncooperative business partners.
slide13
Locum, itinerant or part-timer (3): includesfrequent changes of practice.
  • Cultural barrier (3): From country or culture with a less collegial approach than that in this country; or isolated by language barrier.
  • Male gender (3).
professional isolation and performance a case control study
Professional isolation and performance: a case-control study:

Were those doctors found at competence review to be practising at a substandard level, actually more professionally isolated than those practising satisfactorily?

slide15
Cases = controls for
    • age,
    • specialty,
    • registration status,
    • referring agency
  • Cases > controls for
    • men,
    • OTDs,
    • country doctors
  • 89% response (n = 100)
slide16

Boxplot shows Controls (A) and Cases (B). Y = mean number of yes responses for markers of professional isolationStudents T = -3.29 (p=0.0022)