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Training under the wing of many masters
  1. Ann Johnston
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ann Johnston, Department of Neurology, University Hospital of Wales, Health Park, Cardiff CF14 4XW, UK; jannjohnston{at}

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As I considered training, the path taken to becoming a consultant, I pondered ‘what do consultant neurologists actually do?’: they practice neurology and in essence they master an art. Some time ago, I wandered around an exhibition of JMW Turner,1 one of the masters of the UK's art scene, who did not achieve greatness overnight, although he was blessed with a natural ability. Hailing from Margate he initially learnt his trade under draftsmen and architects before winning a scholarship to the Royal School of Art. He journeyed the length and breadth of Britain gaining subject and inspiration from contrasting landscapes and people, before travelling across Europe where he spent time at the Louvre with other impressionists of his era. Over the years, he mastered the art of technical and well-crafted line drawings of buildings and towns based on his early architectural mentors, but then progressed onto landscape watercolours and more impressionistic works.

It was and is clear to me that Turner although had a natural ability, learnt his trade through dedication and hard graft, mastered his art by working under the wing of many masters, was mentored and inspired, travelled, made friends along the way, learnt new trades and made them his own. So, is mastering the art of neurology really that different?

When I began registrar training, advice came thick and fast. I was strongly encouraged to ‘relocate, to move, to work under many masters’, and now I see the real value, not that one deanery or region is superior, actually far from it, rather the training experience and the trainee is enriched and undoubtedly gains a greater knowledge base, skill and professionalism, …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed. Reviewed by Richard Butterworth from Milton Keynes and Oxford.

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