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How do trainee doctors introduce themselves to patients?


Objectives To identify how trainee doctors introduce themselves to patients.

Design Survey.

Setting Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London.

Participants One hundred trainee doctors, of mixed grades and specialties.

Main outcome measures Introducing oneself by name, using their professional title ‘Dr’, use of the term ‘trainee’.

Results All 100 participants introduced themselves by name to patients, with 63% using only their first name, 18% using only their last name and 18% using a combination of both. 67% mentioned their specialty and 18% mentioned their training grade. 85% identified themselves as a doctor, but only 22% used their professional title (Dr), and only 6% introduced themselves by name, grade, specialty and title. 80% varied the way they introduced themselves to patients, depending on several factors including the clinical situation and patients' characteristics/features. 56% said that they had changed the way they introduced themselves over time, and 42% deliberately avoided the term 'trainee' during introductions. There was no association between trainees’ age, gender or specialty and their comfort in describing themselves as ‘trainees', but the more junior trainees were more comfortable using this term than the senior grades (p<0.0001). Overall, 76% disliked the term ‘trainee’, for various reasons.

Conclusion All doctors in this study introduced themselves by name but the majority did not specify their training grade or trainee status, predominantly because they believed it could trigger anxiety around their competence or undermine confidence in their abilities.

  • anaesthetics
  • adult anaesthesia
  • anaesthesia in obstetrics

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