New revised speaking evaluation criteria that came into effect from September 2018 include main features.
- Linguistic features
- Appropriateness of language
- Grammar and Expressions
- Clinical Communication skill features
- Relationship Building
- Understanding and incorporating a patient’s perspective
- Providing structure
- Information gathering
- Information giving
Linguistic features are the same as other English exams such as IELTS/PTE. However, clinical communication skill criteria are for the first time introduced in any language test.
This series of blogs attempt to explain what are these Clinical Communication Skill Criteria and what should a student do to score 2 out of 3 on each criterion.
The focus of this blog is on Relationship Building. Over the decade of experience in English teaching, I have been able to recognize the fact that in any of the international exams, the main difficulty a student focus is the difference in culture. For this reason, the students are unable to understand what gestures or language is acceptable by the people of other culture. For the very same reason, in spite of being proficient in English, most of the OET aspirants do not score well in Relationship Building Criteria.
As with any other relationship, trust and acceptance are the foundation of your relationship with your patients. Relationship building means making the patient comfortable during the interaction. It starts with listening to the patient attentively by using phrases such ‘Hm’, ‘ok’, ‘oh I See’, ‘ I am sorry to hear that’ and acknowledging their perspective. The patient is more likely to open up about their concerns if they feel accepted. Acceptance of their point of view helps the health professional to build trust. For Example, I have seen many students responding “It is a very bad habit” when the patient discloses about their smoking and drinking habit. This happens mainly due to the health professional’s cultural beliefs where certain habits are socially unacceptable. Although the student might be expressing his concern regarding the negative impacts of their habits on the patient’s health, using phrases such as ‘bad habit’ can switch the patient off.
On the other hand, if health professionals can use the language of acceptance such as “I know where you come from “,” we often get into certain habits accidentally”, and then, “because of our increasing dependence on those things”. We tend to feel helpless about those habits. However, if you agree, I can discuss some very effective strategies which will help you to overcome your habits. Would you like to know more about? This positive outlook can help to persuade the patient for smoking cessation.
In a nutshell, relationship building means recognising the fact that each patient may have their own set of beliefs based on the culture they were brought up in. Therefore, encouraging them to express a perspective on the matter being discussed will help you as an ‘OET candidate’ to know his perspective and build a greater sense of trust with them.
Follow this blog for continued discussion on clinical communication skill criteria