Objective: To determine whether graduate and non-graduate entrants to medical school differ in their views on the first year spent in medical practice as a pre-registration house officer.
Methods: We carried out postal questionnaire surveys of medical qualifiers of 1999, 2000 and 2002 from all UK medical schools, 1 year after qualification. The timing of the study slightly pre-dates the recent major expansion in graduate entry fast-track courses.
Results: Differences between graduate and non-graduate entrants were few and, even when statistically significant, were small in scale. Graduate entrants viewed their working hours, pay and living conditions at work, such as hospital accommodation and food, a little less favourably than did non-graduate entrants. Graduate entrants were also less satisfied than non-graduates with time available for family, social and recreational activities. However, graduate entrants were more likely than non-graduate entrants to feel positive about their future career prospects. There were no differences between graduate and non-graduate entrants in whether they felt they had been well prepared by their medical schools for the jobs they undertook as house officers. Levels of job satisfaction expressed by graduate and non-graduate entrants were similar, as were their responses to most other statements about attitudes to clinical work.
Conclusions: 'Quality of life' issues, a sense of being fairly rewarded, and expectations about one's physical working environment seem a little more important to graduate than to non-graduate entrants. Apart from these, the findings suggest that graduate status, at entry to medical school, has no appreciable influence on attitudes to the work of a junior hospital doctor.