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Table 1 Leading questions for the semi-structured interview with novice and expert anaesthetists. (translated from German)

From: How novice and expert anaesthetists understand expertise in anaesthesia: a qualitative study

Questions for the novice Questions for the expert Scope of the question
What was your motivation to become an anesthesiologist? What was your motivation to become an anaesthetist? Open-ended question introducing the interviewee to the topic.
What fascinates you most about this profession? What fascinates you most about this profession? Open-ended question introducing the interviewee to the topic.
Which tasks are part of being an anesthesiologist? Which tasks are part of being an anesthesiologist? Scope and task requirements of an anesthesiologist.
How did you experience your first months as novice anaesthetist? What do you remember about your time as novice anaesthetist? Personal account of being/having been a novice anaesthetist
Imagine that we meet ten years from now. What do you think will have changed by then? Meanwhile, you have become an expert anesthesiologist. What changed in these years? Which factors are responsible for this change? Paraphrase of expertise, description of being expert
What do you think will need to happen for this change to occur? What has made you the person you have become? Personal account of developing expertise. What can a person actively contribute to this development and what ‘just happens’?
  If a novice would ask you: “I would love to become such an expert anesthetist as you are; what should I do, read, and learn?” What would you answer that person? Personal account of the professional development process. Recommendations on strategy to become an expert.
What will be your biggest challenges? How will you solve them? Reflecting upon your personal journey of becoming an expert: What were your biggest challenges? How did you solve them? Which problems are anticipated/were experienced in becoming an expert?
Can you remember a recent critical event where you had the impression that there is still so much to learn and that you are still at the very beginning of your professional career? Can you remember your first months as anesthesia trainee? How did that feel like to be a novice? What were the challenges? Perception of novice of how it feels to be a novice. Description of problem solving at novice stage
Tell me about that situation. How did that feel like?
What role does medical textbook knowledge play and what role experience? What role does medical textbook knowledge play and what role experience? Concepts of explicit and tacit knowledge; interaction between these two knowledge representations
What role do ‘standards’ play? Is it possible or sometimes necessary to deviate from standards in order to ensure safe patient care? If yes, how do you decide? What role do ‘standards’ play? Is it possible or sometimes necessary to deviate from standards in order to ensure safe patient care? If yes, how do you decide? Concepts of variability, adaptation and the expert’s role in defining when to follow standards and when to deviate.
As a final question: how would you define “expertise in anesthesiology”? As a final question: how would you define “expertise in anesthesiology”? Assumption that after having been interviewed for 30–45 min on practical aspects of expertise, interviewees might be more able to give a theoretical definition.