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Prehospital emergency care: why training should be compulsory for medical undergraduates
  1. John Henry George Antrum,
  2. James K H Ho
  1. University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  1. Correspondence to John Henry George Antrum, University of Edinburgh, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh 51 Little France Crescent Old Dalkeith Road, Edinburgh EH16 4SA, UK; j.h.g.antrum{at}

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In the UK, medical education and practice are regulated by the General Medical Council. This ensures that new graduates have the capabilities expected by employers and patients, and continue their career in line with the principles of good practice. The regulatory guidelines are tailored to a career in the hospital and, as such, are almost exclusively clinical. However, the guidance also states that the responsibilities of a doctor extend beyond the hospital: You must offer help if emergencies arise in clinical settings or in the community, taking account of your own safety, your competence and the availability of other options for care.1

This is an onerous responsibility for students and junior doctors to assist with medical emergencies in everyday life. However, undergraduate training is somewhat deficient in emergency medicine, with limited teaching on emergency management outside the hospital environment. Consequently, the competence of students and junior doctors is inadequate and unlikely to be of any real value in an emergency situation, a sad reality for a healthcare professional with 5 or 6 years of dedicated education. Specific …

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  • Contributors JHGA planned this letter, though he and JKHH are joint authors and contributed equally to the literature search and writing of this letter.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.