Poor culture sees our young doctors bullied, underpaid, survey finds

Junior doctors are overworked, underpaid and often bullied, a survey of medicos in training has found.

Feb 02, 2021, updated Feb 02, 2021
Gender wage parity may still be decades away in man industries. (Photo: ABC)

Gender wage parity may still be decades away in man industries. (Photo: ABC)

The Medical Training Survey, a national industry wide snapshot conducted by the Medical Board of Australia, questioned more than 21,000 doctors in training and found the industry culture remained poor.

“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,” Medical Board of Australia chair Dr Anne Tonkin said.

“But there is serious work for agencies across the health sector to do to improve the culture of medicine.”

One-in-five survey respondents had personally experienced bullying, harassment or discrimination in their workplace.

Another 15 per cent had witnessed it.

Junior Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander doctors reported higher levels of the behaviour.

About half reported senior medical staff – for many, their own supervisors – were responsible.

Nurses and midwives, and patients or their families were also common perpetrators, the survey found.

Two thirds of trainees said that they did not report the incident they experienced, and 78 per cent did not report the incident they witnessed.

“For the future of our profession, we must all listen to what the thousands of trainees have told us and work together to build a culture of respect,” Tonkin said.

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“We must keep our trainees safe and make it safe for them to speak up.”

The survey also found almost half of the junior doctors considered their workload heavy or very heavy.

Two-thirds on averaged worked more than 40 hours a week, with nine per cent working on average more than 60 hours.

Only half reported that they received payment for their un-rostered overtime always or most of the time.

Most also said the pandemic had affected their training, with 46 per cent saying it had both a positive and negative impact, and a further 32 per cent indicating it had only a negative impact.

There were fewer training opportunities and disruption to routine teaching, they said.

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