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First-Year Doctors Found to Be Ill-Prepared for Practice

Study finds deficiencies in practical, clinical, and difficult communication skills in United Kingdom

FRIDAY, Nov. 13 (HealthDay News) -- First-year doctors (foundation year 1 doctors [F1s]) in at least one locale in the United Kingdom are generally unprepared for medical practice, according to a study in the November issue of the Post Graduate Medical Journal.

Catherine and David Matheson, of the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, administered a questionnaire largely based on the U.K. General Medical Council's Tomorrow's Doctors guidelines covering knowledge expected of F1s, such as the scientific basis of practice, treatment, clinical and practical skills, communication skills, and medico-legal/ethical issues. The questionnaire was sent to consultants and specialist registrars at two hospitals in England's East Midlands.

The researchers found that 107 questionnaires were returned by consultants (45 percent) and 121 were completed by specialist registrars (59 percent). In eight of the 11 topic areas covered by Tomorrow's Doctors guidelines, F1s were shown not to be fully prepared, in particular in practical and clinical skills and challenging communication skills. The F1s generally were best prepared for basic communication skills and asking for help.

"Overall, F1s in the study were not well prepared either to perform the tasks that await them or in terms of most of the specific background knowledge and skills necessary for the successful execution of those tasks. The level of preparedness raises important issues about medical training and transition from medical graduate to first year doctor. Further research is needed to determine whether this situation exists in other regions of the United Kingdom," the authors conclude.

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