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Expert: understanding the path to mastery
  1. Mohamed Mustafa1,2,
  2. Harsh Bhatt3
  1. 1 Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC), Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK
  2. 2 The Welsh Epilepsy Unit, Department of Neurology, University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, UK
  3. 3 Department of Neurosurgery, University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Mohamed Mustafa, Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC), Cardiff University, Cardiff, CF24 4HQ, UK; mustafam3{at}

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Roger Kneebone is Professor of Surgical Education and Engagement Science at Imperial College London, having worked previously as a trauma surgeon in South Africa and as a general practitioner in south-west England for many years. He has a keen interest in how we become better at any task we do, and in his first published work for general readership,1 he beautifully describes the term ‘expert’ and what it takes to become one. Cardiff neurology book club met recently to discuss what we could learn from his insights.

Kneebone divides an expert’s journey into three phases:

  • Apprentice—which involves doing hard work and repetitive tasks, often without awareness of the wider context.

  • Journeyman—which heralds the start of taking independent responsibility.

  • Master—where one has accumulated knowledge, wisdom and experience to be passed on.

He explains how individuals’ areas of expertise may …

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  • Contributors The first draft was written by MM, and HB has kindly revised the manuscript and rewrote a few parts.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.