Postgraduate Training in Ireland

20 May 2014

The first study investigating the quality of postgraduate medical training in Ireland, using a validated tool, has identified both strengths and weaknesses present systematically and has demonstrated that the measurement of learning environments at a national level provides useful information for quality assurance and improvement of training.

This study was published in the Irish Journal of Medical Science and is part of a wider programme of research into postgraduate medical training, jointly conducted by the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and the Medical Education Unit, School of Medicine, University College Cork, led by Dr. Deidre Bennett, Senior Lecturer, School of Medicine, University College Cork.


The study examined the quality of training in all Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI) postgraduate training programmes. The quality of training in Ireland is often called into question, and linked to issues such as the trainee “exodus” and poor working conditions. 

The objective of this study was to use a validated questionnaire to examine the expectations of trainees as they start new training programmes under the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI) and to compare these with the experience of training.  The Dutch Residency Education Climate Test (D-RECT) was the tool used to measure these programmes and as a result of this study, the Medical Council will be surveying all trainees in Ireland using the same tool in the coming months. 

Key findings

  •  Trainees at all levels of training had a similar level of expectation, in terms of the quality of training they would receive.

  • In Basic Specialist Training (BST), experience fell short of expectations, particularly for those training in General Internal Medicine.

  • Training experience at Higher Specialist Training was significantly better than at BST level, and matched expectations.

  • Strengts included team work, consultant willingness to discuss patients and respectful treatment of trainees.

  • Weaknesses were in the areas of provision of feedback and time to learn new skills.

  • Compared with a similar study in the Netherlands, Irish training experience scored lower (173) than Dutch experience (188)( scale max. 250).

Medical education and training happens predominantly through workplace learning, therefore, the measurement of quality of training at a national level it vital as it provides useful data for quality improvement.

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