............ Station 6: Communication skill
In the communication skills station an ophthalmologist will usually be paired with a
physician/neurologist. At the communications skills station, the candidate will receive 
a GP letter or case scenario to read. Notes may be made on paper provided, which 
will be destroyed afterwards and not used for assessment. The timekeeper will 
announce commencement of the station. The interview will involve interaction 
between the candidate and the patient/subject and may include history taking, 
taking consent for surgery, some form of counselling or advising patients. The 
interview will commonly take the following format:
• being given a brief GP letter or optometrist report to read
• taking a relevant history over approximately 5 minutes
• being presented with the findings of examination or investigation
• counselling the patient over approximately 7-9 minutes
• 2 minutes left warning will be given
The examiners should be aware of the time limit and advise the candidate when 2 minutes
remain. After allowing the candidate time to gather their thoughts, the examiners will invite the
candidate to summarise the important features of the history or discuss issues arising from
other forms of interview.

History taking skills includes eliciting the presenting complaint systematically, enquiring about
past medical history, family/smoking/alcohol treatment history. The candidate should be able to
follow relevant leads and use appropriate verbal and non-verbal responses. There should be a
good balance of open and closed questions and the interview should be conducted at an
appropriate pace, without rushing or interrupting the subject inappropriately but covering the
main aspects. The candidate should be able to interpret the history and discuss the implications
of the patient’s main problem.

Communication skills. The candidate introduces himself or herself to the subject and explains
their role clearly. They should put the subject at ease and establish a good rapport, exploring
their concerns, feelings and expectations – while demonstrating empathy, respect and a non-
judgemental attitude. The candidate should be able to provide clear explanations, free of jargon,
which the patient/subject understands. They should be able to summarise the interview and
check the patient’s understanding of the discussion.

Tips and practise for station 6. 

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