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Clin Teach. 2017 May 18. doi: 10.1111/tct.12664. [Epub ahead of print]

Do trainees feel that they belong to a team?

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Health Education England Wessex, Otterbourne, Hampshire, UK.



Postgraduate medical education has undergone significant reorganisation in recent years, with changes to the traditional apprenticeship model and an increasing reliance on shift working. The importance of teamwork in clinical care is well established; however, there is little literature on the extent to which trainees actually feel part of a team in the context of current working patterns.


This is a qualitative study using semi-structured interviews of medical and surgical trainees. Data were analysed thematically using an inductive qualitative approach.


Fifteen trainees who had worked in a range of hospitals across the UK participated. Emerging themes fell into several categories: what constitutes the team; the effect of shift patterns on the team; the role of the team in education, support and well-being; and influences on team rapport. Whilst in general interviewees felt part of a team, this was not true for all posts. The nature of the team was also highly variable, and had evolved from the traditional 'Firm' structure to a more nebulous concept. Shift-working patterns could result in the fragmentation of the team, which had implications for patient care as well as for training.


The team played an important role in both education and well-being for trainees, and several factors were identified that could engender a more supportive team. With an ageing population and with increasing demands on limited resources, the requirement for shift work is likely to increase, and there is a fundamental need to maintain support for the next generation of doctors. There is little literature on the extent to which trainees actually feel part of a team.

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