Review Article

Fitness for purpose in anaesthesiology: a review

DOI: 10.1080/22201181.2018.1529857
Author(s): Nicola KalafatisDepartment of Anesthesiology and Critical Care, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, South Africa, Thomas SommervilleDepartment of Anesthesiology and Critical Care, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, South Africa, Pragasan Dean GopalanDepartment of Anesthesiology and Critical Care, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, South Africa

Abstract

The purpose of this review is to explore how fitness for purpose can be defined for anaesthesiology graduates and to delineate the parameters of this concept for anaesthesiology. Newly qualified anaesthesiology graduates experience difficulties with the transition from trainee to specialist, with perceptions of unpreparedness especially in non-technical skills. This may be deleterious to the individual, the patient, colleagues and the workplace. It is possible that graduates may be deemed competent yet are unable to fulfil all their specialist roles. Fitness for purpose and its relationship with competence, expertise and excellence in anaesthesiology have been poorly defined in the literature. These concepts are not synonymous but provide a hierarchical framework for the development of a specialist from a beginner to an expert. The uncertainties surrounding competence are numerous, with generic competency frameworks not addressing all aspects unique to anaesthesiology. The applicability of such frameworks in areas outside which they were originally designed and, in particular, in anaesthesiology, is questionable and requires further investigation. Defining fitness for purpose in anaesthesiology will assist training departments, curriculum designers, assessors and regulators to produce specialists that are experts in their chosen field without any deficiencies and thus able to perform all their required roles.

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