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Twenty simulated consultations with patients having a respiratory illness were carried out by 20 trainees at the start and finish of a training year in general practice, using the same method as used in a previous study of principals in general practice.
During the course of the year, the trainees as a group closely approached the behaviour—in the defined terms of the study—of principals as a group. The trend was more marked for doctors on a three-year training programme than for those on a one-year programme.
In 11 cases direct comparison between trainee and trainer was possible. It was difficult to identify changes in behaviour as being due to either group influences or individual trainer influences, but it appeared that atypical trainers do not necessarily produce atypical trainees and typical trainers do not prevent the development of individuality in trainees.
The technique of simulated consultation may assist the difficult task of evaluating training for general practice.