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How novice and expert anaesthetists understand expertise in anaesthesia: a qualitative study: The development of expertise in anaesthesia requires personal contact between a mentor and a learner. Because mentors often are experienced clinicians, they may find it difficult to understand the challenges novices face during their first months of clinical practice. As a result, novices’ perspectives may be an important source of pedagogical information for the expert. The aim of this study was to explore novice and expert anaesthetists understanding of expertise in anaesthesia using qualitative methods. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 9 novice and 9 expert anaesthetists from a German University Hospital. Novices were included if they had between 3 and 6 months of clinical experience and experts were determined by peer assessment. Interviews were intended to answer the following research questions: What do novices think expertise entails and what do they think they will need to become an expert? What do experts think made them the expert person and how did that happen? How do both groups value evidence-based standards and how do they negotiate following written guidance with following one’s experience? The clinical experience in both groups differed significantly (novices: 4.3 mean months vs. experts: 26.7 mean years; p < 0.001). Novices struggled with translating theoretical knowledge into action and found it difficult to talk about expertise. Experts no longer seem to remember being challenged as novice by the complexity of routine tasks. Both groups shared the understanding that the development of expertise was a socially embedded process. Novices assumed that written procedures were specific enough to address every clinical contingency whereas experts stated that rules and standards were essentially underspecified. For novices the challenge was less to familiarise oneself with written standards than to learn the unwritten, quasi-normative rules of their supervising consultant(s). Novices conceptualized decision making as a rational, linear process whereas experts added to this understanding of tacit knowledge and intuitive decision making. Major qualitative differences between a novice and an expert anaesthetist’s understanding of expertise can create challenges during the first months of clinical training. Experts should be aware of the problems novices may have with negotiating evidence-based standards and quasi-normative rules. Michael St.Pierre. James M. Nyce. BMC Medical Education.