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How can I find out which are the “topmost hospitals” in the anaesthesia training programme at senior house officer level?

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 01 May 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:s172
  1. Leyla Sanai, former consultant anaesthetist (retired due to ill health)
  1. Glasgow


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The concept of “topmost hospitals” in anaesthetic training is a bit of fiction. Most hospitals that are accredited for training (those authorised by the royal college to train juniors) will provide a good basic training.

Of course, hospitals do differ. In the past, once senior house officers (SHOs) had successfully completed their basic training and had proved their competence and ability to cope with a variety of situations, district general hospitals tended to allow more unsupervised work (with help being close at hand, but with more chance to carry out lists on their own). Inner city hospitals, on the other hand, tended to have more doubled up lists (working with a consultant and learning by apprenticeship). Over the past few years, methods of training have altered, with the changes in junior doctors' hours leading to closer supervision. Both styles of training had their advantages: being given the autonomy to plan and carry out your own (simple) lists, knowing that help is at hand, can be beneficial, as can being doubled up with a senior.

Most accredited hospitals will therefore be fine for training, but ask around to find out the differences between them and to find the ones which have a teaching style that most closely corresponds to what you would be comfortable with.

You should visit a few hospitals and speak to their heads of department—arrange this in advance. This will not only allow you to get a feel for each place but it may also help to make yourself known to the departments before the interview. Take along a copy of your curriculum vitae and be prepared to discuss why you are doing anaesthetics and what, if any, previous medical experience you have.

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