A survey of trainees’ perspectives on epidural training in the United Kingdom

Authors: Isaacs, R., Wee, M.Y.K., Dubey, V. and Vaughan, N.



Journal: Global Anesthesia and Perioperative Medicine

Background: Establishment of epidural analgesia is one of the most difficult technical skills in which to become proficient. We explored the current United Kingdom system of training in epidural insertion amongst trainee members of the Obstetric Anaesthetists’ Association (OAA).

Methods: An electronic questionnaire was sent to 452 OAA trainee members in May 2012. Questions were based upon own personal experience, challenges currently faced and the use of epidural simulation to enhance training.

Results: Although the majority felt ready and prepared when initially performing epidurals solo, 66% found the experience very stressful and 25% felt under considerable time pressure. Although senior support was readily available, 36% felt uncertain much of the time and 9% were unsure when to call for help. The European Working Time Directive was felt to have impacted upon training by 54% of respondents. 40% believe that there exists more challenging patients who require more experienced operators. Although 53% had used an epidural simulator previously, 84% would recommend its use for trainees and 49% would support simulator use as a compulsory element of training.

Conclusions: In spite of changes to the medical profession, there appears to be a robust system of training for epidural analgesia. However, there still exists the need to reduce the impact of the learning curve upon workplace stress for trainees. Whether this involves increased direct supervision for more than just the bare minimum, structured feedback tools to enhance the supervisor/trainee experience or the use of high-fidelity epidural simulation remains to be seen.

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