The objective of this study was to explore views of basic surgical trainees on a basic surgical training scheme that complies with college requirements. A postal questionnaire was distributed to 115 basic surgical trainees. Questions focused on career choices, influences on those choices, and self-appraisal. A total of 93 questionnaires were completed and returned (81%). Fifty (54%) were Liverpool Medical School graduates. Forty-nine (53%) respondents came directly onto the Mersey BST scheme from PRHO posts. Job experience and the influence of particular teachers were key factors on trainees' career choice within surgery. This review identified a young, parochial and inexperienced cohort of trainees who have strong convictions to pursue a surgical career. Feedback and advice from consultants was appreciated. Many issues raised have one common denominator: the strong influence of teachers on trainees.