Recent changes in postgraduate medical training in the UK collectively organized under the auspices of Modernising Medical Careers (MMC) have created new labels for junior doctors in training. It would appear that many nurses and other health workers do not understand the new terminology. We aimed to investigate the knowledge of nursing staff about new junior doctor titles in a district general hospital. As far as we are aware, this is the first survey to determine the views and knowledge of the new terms among staff working in the NHS.
District general hospital, West Midlands, UK.
Fifty-five randomly selected staff nurses working in the surgical directorate.
Main outcome measure
Questions were asked about their views and knowledge of the current nomenclature. To objectively assess knowledge of the new titles respondents were asked to match equivalent positions with those based on the old system.
Only 22% (n = 12) of respondents felt that they fully understand current terms in usage. Seventy-six percent (n = 42) felt that it was ‘very important’ that titles accurately convey role and seniority of the doctor. The most common titles correctly matched were FY1 and House Officer (n = 45, 81%) and FY2 and First Year Senior House Officer (n = 35, 64%). Only 9% (n = 5) of staff nurses correctly matched ST3 to Junior Registrar and 13% (n = 7) correctly matched ST7 to Senior Registrar. Ward-based staff nurses demonstrated greater familiarity with titles when compared to nurses who work mainly in the outpatient clinic and theatre setting (p = 0.017). We did not identify a statistically significant association with demographic characteristics (age, gender, experience) and knowledge of the new terms (p > 0.05). Approximately 98% (n = 54) of the staff surveyed felt that terms are confusing to nurses and need to be simplified.
Our survey revealed that nursing staff lacked knowledge of the current terminology to describe doctors in training. This may have implications for staff expectations regarding specific role of junior doctor in terms of clinical decision-making, working relationships and communication between team members, and ultimately patient care.