Irish Journal of Medical Science (1971 -)

, Volume 183, Issue 4, pp 611–620 | Cite as

Postgraduate training in Ireland: expectations and experience

  • D. BennettEmail author
  • T. Dornan
  • C. Bergin
  • M. Horgan
Original Article



Postgraduate medical training in Ireland has been compared unfavourably with training abroad and blamed for an “exodus” of graduates of Irish medical schools. Exploration of features of a good training environment and development of tools to measure it have been the focus of much published research. There have been no Irish studies examining training environment using such validated tools.


The aim of this study was to use a validated tool, to examine the expectations and experience of training, amongst those training under the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI).


The Dutch Residency Education Climate Test (D-RECT) is a 50 item tool to measure postgraduate learning environments. D-RECT was sent to all new entrants to RCPI training programmes in July 2012 (n = 527) and completed in regard to expectations of training (response rate 80.6 %). In March 2013, D-RECT was sent to all RCPI trainees (n = 1,246) to complete in relation to the post held on 1 March (response rate 32.6 %). Data were analysed in SPSS version 18.


Experience fell short of expectations for basic specialist training, however, scores for experience rose with greater seniority to match expectations. Positive aspects were teamwork, consultant willingness to discuss patients and respectful treatment of trainees. Areas of weakness were provision of feedback and time to learn new skills.


Measurement of learning environment at a national level using a quantitative tool provides useful information for quality assurance and improvement of training.


Learning environment D-RECT Medical education Postgraduate medical education and training Graduate retention 



This study was funded by the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland. We would like to thank the many RCPI trainees who responded to the study questionnaires, the administrative staff of the RCPI for their assistance and, in particular, Gillian Walsh, Lisa Walsh, Ciara Hudson and Sophia Kilcullen.


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Copyright information

© Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of MedicineUniversity College CorkCorkIreland
  2. 2.Department of Educational Development and Research, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life SciencesMaastricht UniversityMaastrichtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Royal College of Physicians of IrelandDublinIreland

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