Introduction For many paediatric trainees in the United Kingdom their time and experience working in a tertiary neonatal unit provides lasting memories of endless blood gas rounds, cannulations, and venesection – good experience but is this all ideal for training and morale?
Method We collected information on the practical duties of trainees at an equivalent level (ST2) in three tertiary neonatal units in England, Wales and Sweden between December 2010 and February 2011. Data was collected describing the activities of a single trainee from seven nights and seven long days. The workload and overall staffing of each unit was noted.
Results Each unit had a similar shift length (average 12.7 hrs.) but variable length of break and handover time.
Variations in allocated teaching time and teaching during ward rounds were also noted between the three centres.
Conclusion This study provides a baseline for discussion and improvement of paediatric training experience in tertiary neonatal units. Whilst variation does relate in part to varying practice and case mix there is a striking difference in trainees' duties between UK and Sweden where there is greater use of technical assistants. The question remains what is the ideal balance for training?