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How well prepared are medical students for their first year as doctors? The views of consultants and specialist registrars in two teaching hospitals
  1. C Matheson,
  2. D Matheson
  1. Medical Education Unit, University of Nottingham, Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham & East Midlands Healthcare Workforce Deanery, Nottingham, UK;
  1. Correspondence to Dr D Matheson, Medical Education Unit, University of Nottingham, Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham NG7 2UH, UK; david.matheson{at}


Objective: To evaluate (1) the extent to which first year doctors (foundation year 1 doctors, F1s) in two teaching hospitals in the Trent Deanery were rated by specialist registrars (SpRs) and consultants as being well prepared for practice; (2) the importance ascribed by SpRs and consultants to the various items of core knowledge, skills and attitudes outlined in the publication of the General Medical Council, Tomorrow’s Doctors.

Method: SpRs and consultants were asked to rate: how well prepared F1s were in a range of items of core knowledge, skills and attitudes that a new medical graduate must possess as outlined in Tomorrow’s Doctors; the importance for a new doctor of each item of core knowledge, skills and attitudes; and how well the medical school had prepared F1s in respect of key generic issues related to their practice.

Results: In most of the items of core knowledge, skills and attitudes covering 8 of the 11 topic areas of Tomorrow’s Doctors, F1s were seen as not prepared for starting work, especially in regard to clinical and practical skills and the more challenging communication skills. They were best prepared in asking for help and in basic communication skills.

Conclusions: 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 UK.

  • foundation programme
  • preparedness for practice
  • new doctors
  • postgraduate training
  • undergraduate medical education

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  • ▸ Additional tables are published online only at

  • Funding East Midlands Healthcare Workforce Deanery.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Ethical approval was granted by the Derbyshire Local Ethics Committee (Unique Reference Number: 06/Q2401/137) and approval was also granted by the Research and Development Committee of Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.

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