More than one-third of Australian doctors face workplace bullying

By on August 16, 2017


Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (Photo by ACEMonline/Facebook)
Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (Photo by ACEMonline/Facebook)

CANBERRA — More than a third of Australia’s emergency doctors face “ongoing,  severe” workplace bullying or harassment, a national study has found.

More than 2,100 members of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine took part in the survey which asked them about their experience at work.

One-third, or 700, respondents said they had been bullied in the workplace during their career.

Tony Lawler, president of the college, said the results “sickened” him.

“It is a tragedy that any individual would feel so disempowered and threatened in their workplace that is supposed to be a safe and supported place for them,” Lawler told Australian media on Wednesday.

Examples detailed in the study, released on Wednesday, included cases of physicians feeling humiliated by other doctors when presenting patients’ cases, trainees facing personal attacks when seeking feedback and doctors being physically abused by their peers.

“It was confronting and disconcerting for the college to see the scale of the problem.”

The study said that doctors in Australian emergency departments were being subjected to “ongoing, severe, daily bullying.”

According to one respondent, who remained anonymous, female trainees were regularly singled out and told: “not to apply for a resident job if they planned on getting pregnant.”

“We were told that we should put our eggs on ice if we want to get through training,” the respondent said.

Trainee doctors, in particular women and trainees who spoke English as a second language, experienced higher rates of bullying and harassment.

More than 20 percent of respondents said they experienced harassment while more than 6 percent went through sexual harassment.

“What really concerned us was that there was a strong element of individuals experiencing bullying from within our own professional group, within emergency medicine,” Lawler said.

“This is something that we find obviously completely unacceptable.”  (Xinhua)