Intended for healthcare professionals

Career Focus


BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 13 February 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:S3-7181

If seeing patients is the easy bit,(1) it is uncontroversial to say that effective consultants are more than mere biomedical scientists. It is also fair to say that training in those aspects of practice not backed up with a P-value tends to be haphazard. The Specialist Registrar Handbook is designed to address this. Its origins lie in three years of work that two management researchers put into devising training for senior registrars.

Its chapters cover acquiring the skills of teaching and training, developing quality in clinical services, and understanding the NHS, though these are inevitably an overview rather than comprehensive, and the suggestions for further reading could be drawn more widely.

The first three chapters are perhaps the most useful. They discuss only management, leadership, and communication skills, but provide some practical questionnaire exercises to enable self-evaluation. Doctors may be sceptical that, for example, learning style is reducible to four simple categorisations, such as “accommodator,” “diverger,” “converger,” or “assimilator,” but entertaining a proposition if only to reject it, is, of course, a valid educational exercise.

The extended bibliography at the end of the book is a source of plunder for developing further areas of interest, and though the decision to attempt to impart computer literacy by including common acronyms in a glossary seems out of place, the book is a worthwhile contribution to the literature of generic skills development for doctors.

Gatrell J, White T. The specialist registrar handbook. Oxford: Radcliffe Medical Press, 1998. (£21.50)


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