Background: The continued reduction in junior doctors' hours in the UK has made it necessary to re-examine traditional assumptions about the synonymous natures of training and service. This paper researches senior house officers' (SHOs) perceptions of 'service' and 'training', with reference to where they place activities along the training/service continuum, and the factors that lead them to classify these activities in the way they do.
Methods: Questionnaires were sent to all identified SHOs at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust (40% response rate). Three focus groups were held with 5 SHOs, 3 consultants and 2 clinical tutors. Quantitative data derived from the questionnaires were analysed using spss. Qualitative data collected in the focus groups was coded with the aid of n6, which facilitated the thematic analysis of transcripts.
Results: Analysis of the quantitative data allowed the construction of the training/service continuum diagram. Identified factors affecting the perceived training/service balance of SHO activities included: frequency, time, type and nature of work, number of patients, supervision, interaction, other commitments, purpose and focus of the activity, the individual trainee and trainer, and experience and competence.
Discussion: It is no longer appropriate to assume that all junior doctor activities represent either training or service individually: activities are perceived differently along the training/service continuum depending on their execution and their relation to the SHOs' learning curves. Within the reduced hours framework, it is necessary to match this balance to experience, in order for both training and service requirements to be satisfied.