Background and objectives: Teaching is an important responsibility of non-consultant hospital doctors. In Ireland, specialist registrars (SpRs) in anaesthesia are contractually obliged to teach medical students, other doctors and nurses. Both medical students and fellow non-consultant hospital doctors attribute between 30 and 40% of their knowledge gain to non-consultant hospital doctors.
Methods: We carried out a confidential telephone survey of anaesthetic SpRs in Ireland regarding their current teaching practices and the perceptions of their role as undergraduate teachers. All the SpRs currently working in clinical practice in Ireland were eligible.
Results: Fifty-five of the 79 (70%) SpRs responded to the questionnaire. Only 7 (12.7%) of the respondents said they had been well trained as a teacher. The majority of the respondents stated that they would attend a learning-to-teach course/workshop if one was available, and felt that such a course would improve their ability as a teacher. Only 8 (14.5%) agreed that adequate emphasis is placed on commitment to teaching in the assessment of SpRs, both by individual departments and by the College of Anaesthetists. Anaesthetic SpRs in Ireland spend a considerable amount of time each day teaching undergraduate medical students, the majority (68.9%) stated that they had inadequate time to prepare for teaching.
Conclusion: The majority of the respondents stated that they enjoy teaching, feel that they play an important role in undergraduate teaching but have inadequate time to prepare for teaching. An adequate emphasis is not placed on their commitment to teaching.