Role of the Consultant

A simple question – what is the chief function of the consultant?

The answer is probably the same, regardless of what you mean by ‘consultant’. In the anglo-antipodean world ‘consultant’ typically means a doctor who has completed their specialty exams and has a more senior supervisory role, like an ‘attending’ in the States. Alternatively, ‘consultant’ may refer to a doctor from another service that you have asked to review a patient under your care.

Regardless, the primary role of the consultant has changed little over the last 100 years:

The chief function of a consultant is to make a rectal examination that you have omitted.

William Osler

The major difference is that, these days, most will put on gloves, rather than rely on the old soap-under-the-fingernails trick…

And as for those inane discussions about the order in which the various body cavities should be examined, I side with Hamilton Bailey:

“Actually it is immaterial which of the examinations is done first; the important point is to change the glove.

Hamilton Bailey

Chris is an Intensivist and ECMO specialist at the Alfred ICU in Melbourne. He is also a Clinical Adjunct Associate Professor at Monash University. He is a co-founder of the Australia and New Zealand Clinician Educator Network (ANZCEN) and is the Lead for the ANZCEN Clinician Educator Incubator programme. He is on the Board of Directors for the Intensive Care Foundation and is a First Part Examiner for the College of Intensive Care Medicine. He is an internationally recognised Clinician Educator with a passion for helping clinicians learn and for improving the clinical performance of individuals and collectives.

After finishing his medical degree at the University of Auckland, he continued post-graduate training in New Zealand as well as Australia’s Northern Territory, Perth and Melbourne. He has completed fellowship training in both intensive care medicine and emergency medicine, as well as post-graduate training in biochemistry, clinical toxicology, clinical epidemiology, and health professional education.

He is actively involved in in using translational simulation to improve patient care and the design of processes and systems at Alfred Health. He coordinates the Alfred ICU’s education and simulation programmes and runs the unit’s education website, INTENSIVE.  He created the ‘Critically Ill Airway’ course and teaches on numerous courses around the world. He is one of the founders of the FOAM movement (Free Open-Access Medical education) and is co-creator of litfl.com, the RAGE podcast, the Resuscitology course, and the SMACC conference.

His one great achievement is being the father of three amazing children.

On Twitter, he is @precordialthump.

| INTENSIVE | RAGE | Resuscitology | SMACC

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