SJT: Key domains – Boundaries

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September 26, 2013 by Emedica

Only do things you are qualified to do (and that you can do)!

One key area which arises in SJTs at every level is the importance of acting within your boundaries and remit. The way this may manifest in a UKCAT SJT is in questions where medical students are encouraged to act like fully qualified doctors – by making a diagnosis, taking consent, performing a procedure or signing paperwork. Whilst a medical student – especially one nearing the end of their studies – may feel competent to do any of these things it is important they they don’t! This kind of question is also asked of qualified doctors who may be asked what their attitude to being asked to do something they are not confident about it. Do they ask for help or ‘have a go’?

Professional and personal

Keeping your professional and your personal life separate it recommended for anyone wishing to maintain general sanity! This issue can take two main forms:

  • Your friends and family asking you to ‘be a doctor’ on their behalf.

Tempting as it is for anyone to ask their brother for a bit of medical advice, or a prescription it is very strongly discouraged by the authorities who, whilst accepting that sometimes it is necessary in an emergency, always recommend someone goes to their own GP or another doctor for this kind of help.

  • Your patients wanting ‘a bit more’

In this era of Facebook and Twitter it is not unusual for a doctor to receive a friend request from a patient! Again – there are many clear guidelines about doctors deveoping personal relationships, of any kind, with their patients; both past and present. As a rule it is to be avoided.


Doctors, like everyone else, are free to hold political, religious, ideological and personal opinions as they wish. However – they are not free to impose them on patients, or colleagues. A doctor who doesn’t eat meat cannot tell their patients that all illness stems from their meat consumption whilst general medical guidelines and research don’t support such a claim.

There is some room for manoeuvre in some issues. A doctor with a conscientious objection to the termination of pregnancy is not obliged to offer advice to a woman seeking one. However – as they direct the woman to another doctor they must not make their personal opinions known to her.

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