Aim: To report house officers' views in 2003 of their first postgraduate year, and to compare their responses with those of house officers 2 and 3 years previously.
Methods: Postal questionnaires to all house officers in 2003 who graduated from UK medical schools in 2002.
Results: The response rate was 65.3% (2778/4257). The house officers of 2003 enjoyed the year more than those of 2000-1. A total of 78% of respondents in 2003 scored 7-10 in reply to the question 'How much have you enjoyed the house officer year overall?', scored from 0 (no enjoyment) to 10 (enjoyed it greatly), compared with 70% of 2000-1 house officers. They were more satisfied with leisure time available to them (51% scoring 6-10 in 2003; 35% in 2000-1). There were significant improvements in almost every aspect of doctors' experience. Hospital medical posts were rated more highly than surgical posts, and general practice posts higher still. Overall, 38% of respondents regarded their training as having been of a high standard, and 37% felt that they received constructive feedback on their performance. Differences between men and women in their views about their jobs were small.
Discussion: The house officers of 2003 reported more positively on their experiences than did those of 2000-1. Although a substantial percentage were negative about specific aspects of clinical support and training, particularly in surgical posts, almost all the responses covering training and clinical support moved in a favourable direction over time.