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The Video Library of Explanations

Below are examples of simple and concise ways of explaining common medical conditions and problems.  These are not full CSA cases.  They are here to simply demonstrate how to explain common conditions so that you don’t get stuck in the exam.  I have organised them into clinical systems.   I see so many trainees stumbling over their explanations because they make them unnecessarily complicated.  Just remember some of the following things.

Quick Tips

  1. Don’t use jargon if you don’t have to.
  2. Keep explanations short, simple and sweet.
  3. Try and use what the patient has already told you and weave it in your explanation (for example things from their ideas, concerns and expectations).
  4. Use analogies if you can to help make an explanation more understandable to the patient.
  5. Don’t just vomit out a whole load of information onto the patient.   Do it in bits.   Bit by bit with welcome interruptions from the patient.  And respond to those patient interruptions or questions.  Make the process interactive.
  6. Keep reading the patient’s body language and if you notice that their body language or the tone/pitch/nuances in their speech suggests that they are not on the same wavelength as you then – STOP – VERBALISE WHAT YOU SEE – EXPLORE – INTERACT.   For example, “Mrs X, I’m just going to stop there because I can see from your face that I might have confused you.   Is that right?”
  7. If a patient doesn’t quite grasp something you are explaining, don’t put the blame on them.  Instead, eat humble pie and suggest that you’ve not explained things right.   For example, in the example above I could have said “I can see from your face that you’re not following/understanding what I am say”.  But this can make the patient feel stupid or embarrassed because you are kind of blaming them for not understanding.   That’s why it’s better to take any blame away from them and say something like “I can see from your face that I might have confused you”. 
  8. Always check periodically that the patient is happy with what you are saying.  Sometimes you will have to do this verbally but other times their body language will say it all.    
  9. Finally, use your common sense to know when to say what.   Your common sense disappears if you focus too heavily on all the csa criteria and tick boxes that you think you have to get.














Please leave a comment if you have a tip, spot an error, spot something missing or have a suggestion for a web resource. And of course, if you have developed a resource of your own, please email it to me to share with others.

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