Over 21,000 medical trainees nation-wide completed the Medical Training Survey (MTS) between August and October 2020, with some thought-provoking results.
The recently published results show trainees rated the quality of supervision highly and orientation excellent. On the flip side, bullying, harassment and discrimination experienced and witnessed, but not reported, was high.
In a statement on the MTS, Medical Board of Australia Chair, Dr Anne Tonkin said, “There's a lot going well in medical training in Australia, and we're doing a lot of things right to keep producing doctors who can provide patients with high-quality care."
"But there is serious work for agencies across the health sector to do to improve the culture of medicine," she said.
The results are consistent with 2019 data, though the high response rate of 57% of Australian trainee doctors is well above the 2019 rate of 27%.
What is going well
The quality of clinical supervision was rated ‘very highly’ by 87% of respondents.
Similarly, 75% said their orientation was ‘good’ or ‘excellent’, and 81% would recommend their current training position and workplace. These results are all up slightly from 2019.
International medical graduates also responded positively to training, with 83% saying they were ‘very satisfied’ with the training experience.
Impact of COVID-19
Not surprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic caused disruption – four out of five respondents said it had impacted their training, and one-third of trainees overall confirmed it had a negative effect.
Over half of respondents had mixed training experiences, of which more than one-third said it provided innovative ways to learn.
What hasn’t changed
Questions on the culture of medicine were revised in 2020 and speaking about these results, Dr Tonkin said, “they paint a clearer and disappointing picture, confirming that there is a lot still to be done both in medicine and the wider health sector”.
The culture of bullying, harassment and discrimination has not shifted, with 34% of respondents noting they had witnessed and/or experienced these – consistent with the 2019 results at 33%.
Trainees noted the source of over half (51%) of bullying, harassment and discrimination they experienced was from consultants and specialists.
A high proportion (66%) of trainees did not report incidents they experienced, and 78% did not report incidents they witnessed.
Here to support our members
All doctors should be able to work in a safe, respectful and supportive workplace, free from discrimination, bullying and harassment. As a member-owned organisation, we advocate for change in the culture. You can find out more about the work we’ve done here.
If you feel you are being bullied, harassed or discriminated against at work, you can reach out to us for advice or speak confidentially to one of our medical advisers. Call us on 1800 128 268.
We also have resources to help you navigate difficult situations.
Workplace bullying factsheet
How to negotiate difficult situations with your supervisor factsheet
Performance management - tips and traps webinar
Doctors' health and wellbeing – microsite
Avant Personal Support Program – provided by Benestar