Objective: The principal aim of undergraduate medical education is to produce competent pre-registration house officers (PRHOs). We examined and compared the perceptions of graduates and educational supervisors concerning how well prepared graduates were for their first post.
Methods: A postal questionnaire was sent to house officers who had graduated from Manchester 3 months earlier and also to educational supervisors of PRHOs in the North-west Region. The questionnaires were based on the competencies set out by the General Medical Council of the United Kingdom.
Results: The response rates were 66% from the graduates and 76% from the supervisors. Of the 18 broad areas of competence listed, only four were rated more than 'quite well prepared' by at least 50% of the graduates ('understanding disease processes', 'communicating effectively', 'awareness of limitations' and 'working in a team'). Similarly, more than half of educational supervisors rated graduates as more than quite competent in only three areas ('awareness of limitations', 'keeping accurate records' and 'working in a team'). Within the competencies surveyed, there were differences between the perceptions of graduates and educational supervisors on the preparedness of graduates for the skills they may require as a pre-registration house officer.
Conclusion: Overall, given that most graduates and supervisors perceived the preparedness as 'quite well' or less, the undergraduate course had only partially met its objectives. A mismatch in ratings could be attributed to either inappropriate expectations on the part of the educational supervisors or the graduates or an inaccurate assessment by either group of respondents.