Introduction: This paper shows the findings from a survey of 439 senior house officers undertaken as part of the British Medical Association cohort study of 1995 medical graduates. The aim of the study was to assess the quality of senior house officer training in the United Kingdom.
Method: In July 1997 a postal questionnaire was sent to a sample of 545 doctors who graduated from medical school in 1995. Responses were received from 515 (95%). Only those doctors who had worked as a senior house officer in the previous 12 months were included in the analysis (n = 439).
Results: Encouraging results are that 69% of the senior house officers surveyed had discussed their progress directly with their consultant, and 24% rated their supervision by their consultant as 'excellent'. Of concern are the findings that 47% of respondents did not receive protected teaching time and 16% were unable to take study leave.
Discussion: The study revealed wide variability in the quality of training received by senior house officers in the United Kingdom. Whilst some respondents - notably those in general practice, accident and emergency, paediatrics and psychiatry - had enjoyed a high standard of education and training, it was clear that a minority of posts continue to offer little if any educational value to the post holder. The results point to a need for a more systematic approach to maintaining standards in senior house officer training with greater incentives for under-performing trusts.