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  • Survey shows culture of bullying in trainee doctors

    Author: AAP

Non-binary and women medical trainees around the nation report higher experiences of bullying and mistreatment.

Serious concerns about the culture of medicine were raised by trainee doctors all genders in the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency survey of more than 23,000 doctors in training in 2023.

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Those who identify as non-binary people reported the most instances of bullying, harassment, discrimination and/or racism.

Sixteen per cent of non-binary respondents disagreed that bullying, harassment and discrimination is not tolerated by anyone in the workplace.

Some 32 per cent of female respondents witnessed bullying, harassment, discrimination or racism in the past year, while 58 per cent of non-binary respondents said the same.

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Women trainees also reported more workplace bullying and mistreatment than their male counterparts.

The AHPRA board chair said the culture of medical training needed ongoing attention.

"In such a complex system of shared accountabilities and responsibilities, there is no quick fix," Anne Tonkin said in the December 2023 report.

"The urgent need for ongoing commitment to building a culture of respect in medicine and medical training remains," Dr Tonkin said.

Trainee doctors reported differences in their training based on gender.

Access to research, the quality of orientation and payment for overtime between trainees can differ, respondents said.

More than 18,000 participants answered a question about their gender, with more than 9000 trainees identifying as female, 8000 as male and 67 as non-binary.

Those who identified as non-binary witnessed bullying and discrimination at nearly double the rate reported by male and female trainees and pointed towards medical colleagues and other health practitioners as the source.

Male and female trainees cited senior medical staff as the primary proponents of bullying and harassment.

Dr Tonkin said the established link between poor culture and increased risk to both patient safety and doctors' wellbeing required urgent attention.

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