The aims of this study were to elicit general practitioner (GP) trainee's perceptions of the educational structure of their hospital posts, to compare them with those of consultants who had GP trainees as senior house officers (SHOs) in their departments and to examine the use of educational objectives in the hospital component of vocational training for general practice. A confidential postal questionnaire was sent to all the GP trainees (165 doctors) in the hospital component of their vocational training schemes (VTS) for general practice in Trent Region and all the consultants (161 doctors) in Trent who had GP trainees in their SHO posts on that date. Responses were received from 136 trainees (82%) and 134 consultants (83%). Educational objectives were stated as existing in the SHO post by 31 trainees (23%) and by 62 consultants (46%). Of those doctors who said that objectives existed, 19 of the trainees (61%) and 40 of the consultants (65%) said that the objectives were useful. Only nine (29%) of the trainees who stated that educational objectives existed felt that they were being put into practice by senior staff, compared with 41 (66%) of consultants who had made that statement. Of all respondents, 113 trainees (87%) and 100 consultants (77%) agreed or strongly agreed that the use of educational objectives would be beneficial to the trainees. Only 10 (7%) of trainees said that they received no teaching in their current posts. Forty trainees (32%) and 88 consultants (67%) said that teaching took place in protected time. Both groups cited consultants as the member of staff giving the most teaching. Ninety-six consultants (73%) replied that it was possible for GP trainees to obtain study leave, but 102 trainees (75%) either had experienced difficulties in obtaining study leave or had not attempted to obtain study leave. Trainees and consultants differed appreciably in their perceptions of the amount of assessment and feedback which was provided for GP trainees. The use of educational objectives in the hospital component of vocational training was felt to be beneficial by both consultants and GP trainees. Consultants were more likely than trainees to report the use of educational objectives, protected teaching time, GP-orientated teaching, ability of trainees to attend VTS half-day release and the provision of assessment and feedback to trainees.
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