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Jo Murphy

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Before moving into the GP trainee coaching arena, I was a Theatre Director and Theatre Studies Specialist in my role as Artistic Director of the Bedales Olivier Theatre in Petersfield for ten years. My principle focus is on coaching trainee doctors in Advanced Communication Skills through drama training – a fully embodied approach, as can be seen in more detail below. I also coach one-to-one sessions on specific aspects of voice production and a variety of specialisms, as follows.

Area of expertise and services provided:

I coach in the following areas which all involve detailed - and bespoke - work on facial expression, voice production, gesture, physicality and role-play towards perfecting interpersonal skills:

  • Exam preparation (CSA, OSCE's, VIVA's etc.)
  • Building a professional persona
  • Speech issues (accent-softening, clarity, projection, etc.)
  • Presentation skills
  • Interview preparation
  • Assertiveness, conflict management and related issues
  • Nerve Control

I have been permitted to observe the CSA in session at the RCGP, (the only non-medical professional in the UK to do so), this has given me invaluable insights into this challenging exam.

Services Provided and usual number of sessions

The nature of my work is highly practical: after chatting over each individual’s precise needs we start working in an interactive way focused on each area, (or areas) that we need to cover. I’m not interested in formulaic ‘spray-on’ communication skills, it’s crucial that all my clients feel that the work relates wholly to them in the most authentic way possible. Above all, I want every client to feel relaxed and happy during our sessions, a prevailing working style that I hope is reflected in my testimonials.

In terms of the number of sessions, generally, six hours is the norm, but this will be determined by the trainee’s Case Manager.

I tend to work in three two-hour sessions, (with a five-minute break after the first hour!) starting with an hour’s consultation so that I can get to know the trainee and their requirements in detail. The sessions tend to be spread over a six to eight week period, this seems to suit most of my clients who often travel quite far and prefer the longer sessions. (If the trainee is local, there is the option to start with a two-hour session and then continue with four one-hour sessions).

Who to refer?

I work with a wide range of trainees, both UK and IMG’s: the majority are in GP training but I coach many trainees from other specialist areas. They may require my help at any point in their training, and for a number of reasons, (please see Areas of Expertise above). Trainees, along with their Case Managers, will discuss at what point my help will be most useful.

How to refer?

Case Managers contact me via the Professional Support Unit at Health Education England, Wessex. They introduce the trainee to me via e-mail, the trainee then e-mails me to book the first session.

A sample process map for GP Trainees

I find that each session tends to evolve according to my client’s needs but these, in general terms, are the key components. There are other process maps, of course, for Presentation Skills and all the other areas of my expertise.

We start with an informal consultation, chatting over all relevant issues including the client’s background and my introduction to this map, before starting work.

  1. Breathing and Relaxation: exercises on stance, poise, head carriage, diaphragmatic breath support, ridding the body of tension, etc.
  2. Facial muscles, resonators and articulation: a series of exercises to prepare the face and the resonators for proper articulation and projection.
  3. Vocal exercises to establish successful modulation: we work on pitch, emphasis, (stress), projection, pace, tone and colour to create lively vocal responses and move on to a series of exercises involving simple improvisations, sight-reading, tongue-twisters etc. as required.
  4. Useful phrases in the surgery: working on useful phrases using the techniques above, starting to feed in role-play when confidence is established.
  5. The Great Duet: – how to maximize the interplay between facial expressions and gesture towards building “two-handed professionalism.”
  6. The Heightened Professional Persona (HPP): what further physical and vocal attributes need to be added to establish the professional persona.

We may move on, in the latter sessions, to introduce work on aspects such as the following, if and as needed:

  • Empathy – breaking bad news, etc.
  • Assertiveness – dealing with angry patients, day-to-day interactions with colleagues, interviews, etc.
  • Conflict Management, interactions with difficult colleagues, problem meetings, etc.



There is more information on my work at 
This page is under construction:

Further information

I have had an article “The Drama of Communication” by Murphy et al published in the online journal: The Clinical Teacher, (my co-authors are Professor Dr Johnny Lyon-Maris, Associate Dean for GP Education, Dr Samantha Scallan, Education Research Lead, GP Education Unit, Southampton and Senior Lecturer Lindsay Muir – Drama Education at Bishops Grosseteste University, Lincoln).

Until very recently, I have been running the CSI workshop – The Communication Skills Intensive – across the UK with my colleague Lyndsay Muir, for the past seven years, this is an all-day six-hour workshop with the aim of helping trainees to prepare - and pass - the CSA. I have also been running three-hour workshops for GP Trainers called ‘Training the Trainers’ as well as taking a range of other workshops for the wider medical world.

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