Objective: To investigate the views of junior doctors about their work.
Design: Postal questionnaire surveys.
Setting: United Kingdom.
Subjects: Doctors who graduated from medical schools in the United Kingdom in 1996, surveyed at the end of their preregistration year (2926 respondents), and graduates of 1993 surveyed 3 years after qualification (2541 respondents).
Results: Almost 70% of the 1996 qualifiers felt that they worked excessive hours and 80% felt that they undertook too many routine non-clinical duties. Only 24% agreed that their postgraduate training was of a high standard and 22% felt they were being asked to perform clinical tasks with inadequate training. A total of 70% were dissatisfied with arrangements for cover for absent doctors. Senior doctors and nurses were regarded as supportive by most respondents, but hospital management was not. Although 65% were satisfied with their future prospects, only 36% had been able to obtain useful careers advice. Job enjoyment was reasonably high, with two-thirds scoring 6 or more on a scale from 1 (not enjoying at all) to 10 (greatly enjoying), but 70% of respondents felt that they had insufficient time for family and social activities. A briefer questionnaire sent to the 1993 qualifiers in 1996 showed similar results.
Conclusions: More needs to be done to ensure that junior doctors are trained appropriately for the tasks they undertake, to ensure that they regard their training highly, to reduce excessive non-clinical work, and to provide reasonable working hours and cover.