Background and objective: There has been a steady decline in the overt teaching of many basic and pathology sciences in the medical curriculum worldwide. As interns are the doctors most likely to request and act on tests, an assessment of their confidence in dealing with laboratory investigations was undertaken.
Methods: Interns at two hospitals in Cape Town, South Africa, were asked to complete a structured questionnaire designed to assess their confidence in ordering and interpreting a number of tests. The questionnaire also probed their desire for further teaching and the preferred delivery vehicle for such teaching.
Results and conclusions: 61 out of 117 questionnaires were returned. Interns were confident in the use of common tests, but 23% were not confident in interpreting a test that they were confident in ordering. All respondents felt they would benefit from teaching in at least one area and lectures were the preferred method, although the majority felt it very likely that they would complete an online tutorial if available. The results suggest that institutions need to devise strategies to fulfil the learning needs of new graduates in the area of chemical pathology and clinical biochemistry.