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Let’s all be realistic about the future of medicine

As Healthcare professionals we have all heard about Realistic Medicine – but do we really know what Realistic Medicine actually means?

Our Clinical lead for Realistic Medicine, Dr Alastair Ireland, welcomed the Chief Medical Officer’s latest paper entitled ‘Personalising Realistic Medicine’, and thinks the most important message it offers us is on the subject of Shared Decision Making.

Alastair said: “Realistic Medicine is taking us back to the core of why we entered caring professions, reminding us that we are much more than just systems or processes. We are people responding to people.

“We can go as far back as Hippocrates to see examples of Realistic Medicine. It is more important to know what sort of person has a disease, than to know what sort of disease a person has.

“We are reminded that there are two experts in every contact between the professions and patients – one advising on the options and the other having a chance to describe and ask questions about what is right for them.

“So we’re going to be developing ways to help people ask more questions – such as the pros and cons of treatment options, what the realistic alternatives could be and what would happen if a different approach were chosen.

We are developing training packages for staff on how to encourage a ‘Shared decision making ‘ approach in our conversations with people we are looking after. These will include both face to face training and eLearning and aim to debunk some of the myths and help encourage some simple changes, based on what we know works for patients, to make this a practical reality. We’ll be calling this ‘Realistic Conversations’.

Realistic Medicine also has a major emphasis on supporting and valuing our staff, listening to what they are telling us, developing ‘compassionate leaders’ and looking at new ways of helping teams form strong bonds to help cope with the challenges of our roles.

Alastair added: “Just as health is more than the absence of disease, a fulfilling job in the health service has to be more than just the absence of burn-out. We’re keen to support our staff with further training and refreshers in how to approach honest and necessary conversations that we have to have, with patients and sometimes with each other.”

In NHSGGC we are going to begin work on these recommendations as soon as possible and are keen to hear from teams who wish learn more and act as pilot sites.

If you want further information about Realistic Medicine, you can read more at: https://realisticmedicine.scot/ or contact Alastair Ireland, email: [email protected]