While specialist registrars in psychiatry are entitled to spend one-fifth of their working week engaged in special interest sessions, little has been published on how the time is used. In order to describe what happens in practice, we conducted a semi-structured telephone survey of trainees on the South-East Thames Higher Training Scheme in psychiatry.
The results indicate that while most trainees (78%) were satisfied with their use of special interest time, those using two sessions regularly for a defined training purpose were in the minority.
Use of special interest sessions is generally good in the scheme surveyed. If uptake of sessions is to be improved, there needs to be even better local support as well as existing national recognition of the educational rights of trainees. The local support should be at the level of both trust and training scheme.
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