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Subspecialty neonatal trainees views on being prepared for the consultant role
  1. Ben N J Shaw1,
  2. Ben J Stenson2,
  3. Alan C Fenton3,
  4. Gillian Morrow4,
  5. Jeremy Brown5
  1. 1Neonatal Unit, Liverpool Women's Hospital, Liverpool, UK
  2. 2Department of Neonatology, Simpson Centre for Reproductive Health, Edinburgh, UK
  3. 3Neonatal Unit, Newcastle Neonatal Service, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  4. 4School of Medicine and Health, Durham University, Durham, UK
  5. 5Evidence-based Practice Research Centre, Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, UK
  1. Correspondence to Ben N J Shaw, Neonatal Unit, Liverpool Women's Hospital, Crown street, Liverpool, L8 7SS, UK;{at}


Higher specialist training offers an opportunity to focus on non-clinical skills as well as clinical issues. The authors wished to determine whether doctors who complete neonatal higher specialist training in the UK feel prepared for the consultant role with respect to management, research and teaching, as well as clinical activities.

A questionnaire related to the preparedness of the consultant to carry out a range of activities was sent to all doctors who were appointed to the UK higher specialist training programme in neonatology from 2002 to 2008 who were currently working as consultants.

Seventy-one of the 83 eligible participants completed the questionnaire. Roles that consultants felt extremely well prepared for related to clinical care, communication, team-working, prioritising tasks, teaching and audit. Trainees reported that roles that they had been not at all well prepared for were related to roles in management and service delivery, medicolegal issues and complaints, job planning and personal development, supporting doctors in difficulty and chairing meetings.

Four key themes emerged from the analysis of free-text responses regarding specialty training: the influence of shift patterns/service provision, the lack of non-clinical preparation, learning on the job as a consultant later on and problems with grid training itself.

This study showed that for neonatal paediatrics in the UK, new consultants feel confident about managing ill babies but are unprepared for other aspects of the consultant's role. Neonatal higher specialist training needs to allow opportunities for non-clinical training.

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.