Background and aims: Retention of junior doctors in specialties such as critical care is difficult, especially in resource-limited settings. This study describes the profile of junior doctors in adult state intensive care units in Sri Lanka, a lower middle-income country.
Materials and methods: This was a national cross-sectional survey using an anonymous self-administered electronic questionnaire.
Results: Five hundred and thirty-nine doctors in 93 Intensive Care Units (ICUs) were contacted, generating 207 responses. Just under half of the respondents (93, 47%) work exclusively in ICUs. Most junior doctors (150, 75.8%) had no previous exposure to anesthesia and 134 (67.7%) had no previous ICU experience while 116 (60.7%) ICU doctors wished to specialize in critical care. However, only a few (12, 6.3%) doctors had completed a critical care diploma course. There was a statistically significant difference (P < 0.05) between the self-assessed confidence of anesthetic background junior doctors and non-anesthetists. The overall median competency for doctors improves with the length of ICU experience and is statistically significant (P < 0.05). ICU postings were less happy and more stressful compared to the last non-ICU posting (P < 0.05 for both). The vast majority, i.e., 173 (88.2%) of doctors felt the care provided for patients in their ICUs was good, very good, or excellent while 71 doctors (36.2%) would be happy to recommend the ICU where they work to a relative with the highest possible score of 10.
Conclusion: Measures to improve training opportunities for these doctors and strategies to improve their retention in ICUs need to be addressed.
Keywords: Critical care; junior doctors; lower middle-income country; resource-limited setting; training.