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The 8 goals RACS have announced to stamp out bullying

The 8 goals RACS have announced to stamp out bullying - Featured Image

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons has launched an Action Plan to turn around the reputation of their profession.

The intention of their plan is to ‘promote respect, counter discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment in the practice of surgery, and improve patient safety’.

The Action Plan is a response to a draft report and recommendations released by an Expert Advisory Group commissioned by RACS in response to reports of bullying behaviour in the surgical field.

The report found there is culture of bullying that is considered a ‘rite of passage’ within the College with the intent to prepare trainees for surgery.

There are 8 goals in the Action Plan with a set of actions for each one to help the college monitor its progress.

The goals are:

  1. Build a culture of respect and collaboration in surgical practice and education
  2. Respecting the rich history of the surgical profession, advance the culture of surgical practice so there is no place for discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment (DBSH)
  3. Build and foster relationships of trust, confidence and cooperation on DBSH issues with employers, governments and their agencies in all jurisdictions
  4. Embrace diversity and foster gender equity
  5. Increase transparency, independent scrutiny and external accountability in College activities
  6. Improve the capability of all surgeons involved in surgical education to provide effective surgical education based on the principles of respect, transparency and professionalism
  7. Train all Fellows, Trainees and International Medical Graduates to build and consolidate professionalism including: fostering respect and good behaviour,   understanding DBSH: legal obligations and liabilities, ‘calling it out’/not walking past bad behaviour  and resilience in maintaining professional behaviour
  8. Revise and strengthen RACS complaints management process, increasing external scrutiny and demonstrating best practice complaints management that is transparent, robust and fair

Read the full action plan on the RACS website.

So far, responses from doctors have been positive. Dr Ashleigh Witt, who gained prominence in the mainstream media earlier this year for her comments on being a female surgeon, tweeted ‘I’ve only skimmed but so far very impressed by this. Excellent work @

St Vincent’s Health tweeted ‘Congratulations @ on this important announcement. We stand ready to work with you on its implementation.’

Senior surgeon and author on gender equality Dr Gabrielle McMullin told ABC Radio that she wasn’t sure it would change anything: “The problem is getting people, trainees, to believe that a complaint will not adversely affect their progression in their career and getting a job. That is the major reason why trainees don’t complain about harassment and bullying, is because you lose your career if you complain.”

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