The medical registrar in the acute on-call and out-of-hours setting is usually considered to be one of the busiest and most challenging jobs in the entire hospital. This is perhaps a reflection of the changes in the structure and organisation of acute medicine precipitated by the European Working Time Directive and Modernising Medical Careers. As well as the general feeling that medicine is being increasingly viewed as a default referral option by other specialties who are themselves becoming ever more sub-specialised. This article explores what the pragmatic role of the medical registrar broadly should be. The Medical Workforce Unit at the Royal College of Physicians is launching an initiative, part funded by the Department of Health, to answer this difficult question.
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