University of Tasmania
144922 - Attributes and generic competencies required of doctors.pdf (2.47 MB)

Attributes and generic competencies required of doctors: findings from a participatory concept mapping study

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Background: Medical education should ensure graduates are equipped for practice in modern health-care systems. Practicing effectively in complex health-care systems requires contemporary attributes and competencies, complementing core clinical competencies. These need to be made overt and opportunities to develop and practice them provided. This study explicates these attributes and generic competencies using Group Concept Mapping, aiming to inform pre-vocational medical education curriculum development.

Methods: Group Concept Mapping is a mixed methods consensus building methodology whereby ideas are generated using qualitative techniques, sorted and grouped using hierarchical cluster analysis, and rated to provide further quantitative confirmation of value. Health service providers from varied disciplines (including medicine, nursing, allied health), health profession educators, health managers, and service users contributed to the conceptual model’s development. They responded to the prompt ‘An attribute or non-clinical competency required of doctors for effective practice in modern health-care systems is...’ and grouped the synthesized responses according to similarity. Data were subjected to hierarchical cluster analysis. Junior doctors rated competencies according to importance to their practice and preparedness at graduation.

Results: Sixty-seven contributors generated 338 responses which were synthesised into 60 statements. Hierarchical cluster analysis resulted in a conceptual map of seven clusters representing: value-led professionalism; attributes for self-awareness and reflective practice; cognitive capability; active engagement; communication to build and manage relationships; patient-centredness and advocacy; and systems awareness, thinking and contribution. Logic model transformation identified three overarching meta-competencies: leadership and systems thinking; learning and cognitive processes; and interpersonal capability. Ratings indicated that junior doctors believe system-related competencies are less important than other competencies, and they feel less prepared to carry them out.

Conclusion: The domains that have been identified highlight the competencies necessary for effective practice for those who work within and use health-care systems. Three overarching domains relate to leadership in systems, learning, and interpersonal competencies. The model is a useful adjunct to broader competencies frameworks because of the focus on generic competencies that are crucial in modern complex adaptive health-care systems. Explicating these will allow future investigation into those that are currently well achieved, and those which are lacking, in differing contexts.


Publication title

BMC Health Services Research








Tasmanian School of Medicine


Biomed Central Ltd

Place of publication

Middlesex House, 34-42 Cleveland St, London, England, W1T 4Lb

Rights statement

© The Author(s) 2021. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License, ( which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made.

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Health system performance (incl. effectiveness of programs); Provision of health and support services not elsewhere classified