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Changing education model key to stamping out bullying in medicine

Changing education model key to stamping out bullying in medicine - Featured Image

Creating new policies and guidelines isn’t enough to stamp out sexual harassment and bullying in the medical world, according to a Perspective published today in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Professor Merrilyn Walton, Professor of Medical Education (Patient Safety) at the University of Sydney, says the entire design of medical education needs to be overhauled.

She writes in her article that “being a senior doctor is not a qualification for teaching in itself”.

Instead, she feels that supervisors should be accredited in order to reinforce the potential of all trainees.

She feels that this change in educational structure might help women learn better and decrease instances of bullying in medicine.

“Women may be at a disadvantage their learning approaches and styles may not be as suited to the opportunistic supervision learning method used in hospitals that requires an assertive personality and a “can do” attitude that are not necessarily the best for patient care, but are best for progress in specialty training,” Professor Walton wrote.

Related: Opinion: Surgery support

She feels particularly in areas of surgery where currently only 10% are women, encouraging female surgeons to become clinical supervisors would help.

She also feels colleges need to change their culture when it comes to reporting harassment and bullying in medicine.

“College policies and guidelines about harassment and discrimination alone will not change the culture — these must be accompanied by swift and strong action by College representatives when instances are brought to their attention.”

Read the full perspective on the Medical Journal of Australia website.

The AMA recently made a submission to the Royal College of Surgeons to look into issues of discrimination, bullying and harassment.

The AMA submission offers explanations as to why discrimination, bullying, and harassment are a problem in the profession of surgery, however don’t believe they should be excuses for unacceptable standards of behaviour.

“There is no one solution that will fix these issues,” AMA President Professor Brian Owler said.

“We need to target areas such as the working environment, training and education, mentoring and role models, the elevation of more to women leadership roles, policies, complaints processes, and reporting.

“And we need to create an environment where people should not be afraid to come forward with complaints.”

Read the submission on the AMA website.

Related: Listen, hear, act: challenging medicine’s culture of bad behaviour