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Postgrad Med J. 2017 Jan;93(1095):15-19. doi: 10.1136/postgradmedj-2016-133973. Epub 2016 Jun 15.

The value of emergency medicine placements for postgraduate doctors: views of Foundation Year 2 doctors and training leads in the emergency department (ED).

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School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR), University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK.
Institute of Work Psychology (IWP), Sheffield University Management School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK.



To examine the delivery of postgraduate training in the emergency medicine setting and its impact on postgraduate doctor (Foundation Year 2) performance and competence.


A national study in four emergency departments (EDs) in England between 2009 and 2010 was undertaken. Semistructured interviews with ED training leads (TLs) and focus groups with Foundation Year 2 (F2) doctors were carried out in each ED. Interviews and focus group data were analysed to compare the perspectives of F2 doctors and TLs on the delivery of training and performance and confidence of F2 doctors.


Interviews were carried out with eight TLs and focus groups with 30 F2s. F2 doctors and EDTLs agreed that ED was a valuable environment for F2 doctors to develop their competence, with exposure to a broad range of patients and the opportunity to make decisions about clinical care. Diverging views existed around competence and performance of F2s. F2 doctors had anxieties about decision-making (particularly discharging patients) and required regular feedback to feel confident in their care. TLs recognised a need for more supervision and support for F2 doctors but this was challenging in a busy, performance-led service.


Emergency medicine placements were important in the development of confident and competent F2 doctors, particularly in the context of less clinical exposure in other specialty placements. However, there are competing tensions between elements of postgraduate learning and service delivery within emergency medicine that require addressing to enable trainees to optimally develop knowledge and skills in this environment.



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