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This study is the first attempt in the UK to establish the views of senior anaesthetic trainees in relation to acquiring the attributes of an ‘ideal’ anaesthetist, and how these could be met by a simulation course.An electronic questionnaire consisting of open and closed questions was distributed to all 79 post-fellowship anaesthetic trainees in Merseyside, UK. Responses were anonymous and answers to open questions were independently coded into one of three themes: skills, knowledge and attributes/behaviour.The response rate was 81% (64 of 79). The most frequently mentioned attributes of the ideal anaesthetist were behavioural, rather than skills or knowledge elements. Respondents thought that a simulation course should concentrate on developing leadership, teamwork and communication skills. A total of 69% (40) felt that their current training had helped them to develop attributes of an ideal anaesthetist and half of this subset felt that simulation-based training had helped them acquire these qualities. Additional benefits of a simulation course are considered to be additional practice, exposure to rare events and a realistic environment. At least 25% of the respondents thought that simulation training should be a mandatory part of anaesthetic training.This study on the training needs of senior anaesthetic trainees, who have described the behavioural characteristics of an ‘ideal anaesthetist’. Some of these attributes can be taught by simulation training. Our results should be used in the design of future simulation courses.