Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Senior house officers and foundation year doctors in emergency medicine: do they perform equally? A prospective observational study
  1. P A R Armstrong,
  2. A L White,
  3. S Thakore
  1. Emergency Department, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee, UK
  1. Dr P A R Armstrong, Emergency Department, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee DD1 9SY, UK; peter.armstrong{at}


Introduction: Implementing foundation and specialty training programmes within emergency medicine raised concerns about the potential work productivity and effectiveness of new junior doctors. Between August 2006 and July 2007 senior house officers (SHO) on 6-month posts and foundation year 2 (FY2) doctors on 4-month placements worked on the same roster, rotating between the emergency department at Ninewells Hospital, a university teaching hospital in Dundee, and a smaller affiliated unit at Perth Royal Infirmary. To compare the efficiency and productivity of both groups of junior medical staff.

Methods: A prospective observational study was performed at both departments using the number of patients seen per hour as an indicator of productivity. These rates were calculated using information gathered from a computerised patient record and management system. Analysis was performed using unpaired t tests.

Results: Both groups demonstrated a significant rise in performance between the first and last month of their attachment. There was no statistical performance difference between months 4 and 6 of the SHO group, and no significant statistical difference existed between the two groups over the study period.

Conclusions: With FY2 trainees changing every 4 months, departments are potentially exposed to reduced productivity particularly in month 1. Whereas FY2 trainees have no performance difference when compared with their peers, their presence has undoubtedly impacted on middle and senior staff. Only 65% of patients attending this department are seen by junior medical staff and the vast majority of these are reviewed by senior doctors. Increasing supervision, teaching and assessments improve training, but has reduced shop floor presence and productivity.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Competing interests: None.

  • Contributors: PARA coordinated the study, performed data collection and interpretation and wrote the article. ALW performed data collection and interpretation and performed the literature search. ST assisted in the coordination and writing of the study and acts as guarantor.

Linked Articles

  • Primary survey
    Simon Carley