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Professor Paul Kinnersley

I am a general practitioner in Cardiff but my main job is to be in charge of teaching the medical students how to talk to patients.

Learning how to talk

This may sound simple but our students need to be experts at helping patients who are in pain or feeling ill or worried or all three!

They also need to be able to explain the diseases that patients are suffering and the treatments they will need.

Actors & scripts

We could use real patients for this teaching — and our students do get lots of opportunities throughout the course to talk to patients but when students are practising skills for the first time it is easier to use actors - who take on the role of the patient.

In this way the actor can be given a script - perhaps they might have cancer or some other serious disease - and then the student can practice talking to them. Then if the ‘patient’ gets upset it’s not such a problem as it's not for real.

The students get a number of teaching sessions with the actors covering different types of consultations with patients. The medical students really like these teaching sessions because they are both enjoyable and important.

Smoothing the transitions

I am also developing some new teaching to help our students make the change from school student to medical student and then from student to doctor.

This is a big change for the students to make and they need opportunities to think about what they have learnt and what else they need to learn.

This teaching will also be helping the students appreciate the qualities that make a really good doctor - and helping them become good doctors!

Professor Kinnersley receives the Lifetime Achievement Award.

This award by the School of Medicine, made in November 2012, recognises Professor Kinnersley's significant and sustained contribution to teaching and training medical students and postgraduates over a prolonged period of time.

Professor Kinnersley pioneered Communication Skills training at Cardiff when these had not yet been widely recognised as important for medical students.