Registrar operating experience over a 15-year period: more, less or more or less the same?

Surgeon. 2004 Jun;2(3):161-4. doi: 10.1016/s1479-666x(04)80078-7.


Background: Concerns have been raised on the effects that recent changes in junior doctor work patterns may have on the breadth and depth of operative exposure achieved during specialist registrar training. This study aimed to determine whether there was any justification for these concerns by assessing whether there have been significant changes in either the number of cases or the case mix operated upon by registrars over the course of the past fifteen years.

Methods: A retrospective review of theatre records was undertaken, looking at the caseload of the registrars working for the same two consultant surgeons at one district general hospital in four one-year periods (1986-7; 1991-2; 1998-9; 2001-2). The number, subspecialty, and time of each operation were recorded.

Results: Whilst operating experience for the first three periods of the study was static, the most recent assessment point has demonstrated a significant reduction in trainee routine operative experience and also a small reduction in the emergency workload performed by both firms. There was also a significant change in the elective case mixes corresponding to consultant sub-specialisation during this period. In addition, there were notable changes in the nature of the emergency workload and a reduction in the number of cases performed after midnight.

Conclusion: SpRs trained during the Calman era appear to be gaining less operative experience than their predecessors in both the elective and emergency settings. With further changes in working patterns currently being implemented, major changes to SpR programmes are required if surgeons are to be adequately trained.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Education, Medical, Graduate
  • Elective Surgical Procedures / standards
  • Elective Surgical Procedures / statistics & numerical data
  • Emergency Treatment / standards
  • Emergency Treatment / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • General Surgery / education*
  • General Surgery / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Hospitals, District
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency / standards*
  • Internship and Residency / trends
  • Ireland
  • Male
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / standards*
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / trends
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Workload