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The Purpose of GAMSAT Section 2

I have a pal out in Sydney who coaches business people and the like to help them motivate themselves for work and life. His guiding principle is that if you can figure out ‘why’ you’re doing the work you are, you will be far more successful in motivating yourself to achieve your goals.

I’ve found this perspective to be pretty helpful in my own coaching work, and the following is an explanation for why GAMSAT Section 2 is important, and what you might be doing it for.

The purpose of GAMSAT Section 2 is to test your communication skills. In this ‘written communication’ section, you are marked on your ability to respond to a specific comment, and demonstrate that you have understood its meaning.

So how do you demonstrate that you’ve understood something? By explaining it.

In less words, Section 2 is a test of your explaining skills. Some day you will be confronted with a patient who is asking you very specific questions and is very confused about the answers they’ve been getting. The patient themselves may be making very little sense; perhaps muttering esoteric comments or quotes like a loud GAMSAT paper. It ultimately falls to you to make sense of what the patient has said and demonstrate that you’ve understood them, while explaining the answers to their questions in a way that they can understand.

‘Compliance’ is a very serious issue you will learn about in med school. It’s the medical term for whether or not the patient does as they’re told re: taking their pills, performing their exercises etc. While drug companies make some efforts to create treatments that are easy to comply with, the biggest determining factor for whether or not your patient accepts their instructions is you.

If they’re gonna take their pills every day they need to understand why they’re doing it. The importance of this action needs to be explained to them. The patient has to trust that you care about them. They have to feel like you understand them.

From your perspective it seems obvious why they should take their pills and how you feel about their welfare. So all you have to do is explain your perspective. If the patient could see through your eyes they would understand completely. So help them by explaining what you see. You don’t necessarily need to quote anyone else, or defer to what others have seen (unless it helps with the explanation). All that matters at this time is what you see, feel and think. Explain that honestly and directly and understanding will follow.

Communication is critical in medicine. And sometimes all a person needs is help making sense of things. When that happens they will need your open mind and explaining skills to take in the jumble they sputter and explain it back to them in precise and specific terms. And if you speak clearly, accurately and engender trust in your listener, you might even save some lives!