Broad Based Training Programme

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The Broad-Based Training programme (BBT) was launched in 2013 with the aim of better preparing medical trainees for their careers in a changing healthcare service. It allowed trainees to undertake six-month placements in core medical training, general practice, paediatrics, and psychiatry, before deciding which of those four specialties to enter for further training.


Results of an independent evaluation show that:

  • BBT develops trainees who bring a broad perspective to healthcare with benefits both for patient care and for medical specialty understanding and integration
  • This is particularly important in the light of the increase in complex and long-term conditions in an ageing population, where patient-centred care is more crucial than ever
  • BBT trainees had more time to make a final decision on career specialty, leading to greater commitment with their choice compared to trainees on standard training packages
  • BBT trainees gained valuable skills in self-directed learning, and demonstrated leadership and management skills
  • Most BBT trainees chose to exit into GP training (in proportion to the wider number of recruits to General Practice), and some of those exiting into psychiatry chose this specialty as a direct result of the experience they had received through BBT training.


We believe that some form of broader-based training is required to address the changing needs of patient care. Recruitment to the BBT programme is happening in Wales and Scotland and remains an aspiration in England. The outcomes of the evaluation, together with the related implications from the Shape of Training review, suggest that this sort of broader based training will be particularly valuable when it comes to providing doctors with the appropriate breadth of skills for our current and future patients.

Professor Alison Bullock, from the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University, which conducted the research said,

‘By any measure, broad based training brings benefits to patients and the doctors who care for them, both by giving doctors a wider knowledge and greater skills which are transportable across specialties, but also because it enfranchises trainees and gives them a greater sense of self-determination over their career. We are pleased that the BBT approach has been taken up in Wales and Scotland and hope that in time it will be re-adopted in England too.’

Professor Jane Dacre, vice-president, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and Education lead said,

‘We are grateful to Professor Bullock and her colleagues at Cardiff University for their excellent analysis of the benefits of Broad Based Training. It is clear that trainees have valued the Broad Based Training Programme and we hope that the principles of BBT are retained and taken forward for the future.’


The evaluation of Broad Based Training was commissioned by the Academy with funding from HEE and carried out by Cardiff University following competitive tender. The evaluation used a longitudinal, mixed-methods approach, collecting data from annual questionnaire surveys (of BBT trainees and comparator groups), focus groups and semi-structured, one-to-one interviews. A key focus was the first two cohorts of BBT trainees (62 at baseline) who were followed for three years. Q-methodology was also used to explore perceptions of what it means to be a good doctor

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges brings together the voices of its 23 member colleges and Faculties for overarching generic issues around healthcare

The Academy’s role is to promote, facilitate and at times, coordinate the work of the Medical Royal Colleges and their Faculties for the benefit of patients and healthcare. The Academy comprises the Presidents of the Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties who meet regularly to agree direction



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