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In this issue, Surman and colleagues from the UK Medical Careers Research Group present longitudinal data on how job satisfaction and work–life balance have changed for junior doctors over a 16-year period (1996–2012).1 Half of the graduates seem satisfied with their jobs at 1 and 5 years after graduation. Disappointingly, the more recent data show that only one in five feel that they are ‘highly satisfied’ with the amount of time they have for leisure activities outside work, although this doubles by 5 years postqualification. Having said this, both job satisfaction and time available for leisure activities seem to have improved in successive cohorts over time, particularly for those who have been qualified for 1 year. Trainees in general practice (GP) are generally always more satisfied than their hospital counterparts. Other demographics such as sex, ethnicity and medical school attended do not have a significant influence.
Factors that may have a bearing on these parameters are discussed. Only a modest improvement in the perception of time for leisure is seen in recent years. This is perhaps surprising in the light of the introduction of the European Working Time Directive and subsequent increased rigour of junior doctor's hours monitoring and prohibitively expensive banding costs for trusts for intense …