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The cost of teaching an intern in New South Wales

In reply: We fully agree with Goh that teaching does not translate to learning. In our article,1 we were careful to concentrate on teaching, both formal and informal, received by interns, and not learning — something that is much more difficult to measure.

We defined informal teaching as being spontaneous, non-timetabled and sporadic, pointing out that it may occur during a ward round, walking along a corridor or at the end of a consultation.

Like Goh, we acknowledged that teaching also occurs as a result of observation and practical experience, which were not included in our study. We emphasised that there is much more involved in intern education than the formal and informal teaching considered here, and we mentioned: observation by interns; self-learning; practical experience; self-reflection; and the influence of role models.

It may well be that some teaching occurred that was not identified as such by the interns surveyed. What is important is that formal and informal teaching should be acknowledged as a crucial part of the intern experience and that supervisors ensure that teaching and learning, in all its forms, is emphasised.