J Clin Pathol doi:10.1136/jclinpath-2013-201786
  • Original article

Medical microbiology training needs and trainee experience

  1. Michael Millar
  1. Department of Infection, Barts Health NHS Trust, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Josephine Seale, Department of Infection, Barts Health NHS Trust, 80 Newark St, Whitechapel, London, E1 2ES, UK; Josephine.Seale{at}
  • Received 1 June 2013
  • Revised 4 August 2013
  • Accepted 9 August 2013
  • Published Online First 28 August 2013


Background Training in microbiology is continuing to evolve. Standardisation of this process has, in part, been achieved through the development of a training curriculum by the Royal College of Pathologists (RCPath). A substantial proportion of microbiology training occurs through telephone consultations.

Aims To ascertain the content of these interactions and the extent to which the necessary skills outlined by the curriculum are attainable via these consultations.

Methods Records of telephone consultations made by microbiology registrars (SpR) on the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) over a 6 month period were analysed with regard to who initiated contact and the type of advice provided.

Results An average of 426 SpR entries per month were made on the LIMS following telephone consultations. These consultations were predominantly initiated by fellow clinicians as opposed to the SpR. The majority (79%) of advice entailed guidance as to the use of antimicrobials which resulted in an alteration of the current regimen in 54% of cases.

Conclusions This study represents the first attempt to quantify the telephone consultations of microbiology trainees. It is concluded that although such interactions provide a means of attaining some of the competencies outlined by the RCPath curriculum, the bias towards antimicrobial advice reflects a discrepancy between the needs of the service users and the broad skill set advocated by the current microbiology training programme. Future modifications will need to take this into account to ensure both the training of SpRs and the microbiology service is fit for purpose.

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