Prof Freddie Wood, Medical Council President
SAY ‘NO’ TO BULLYING
The prevalence of bullying is one of the most serious concerns arising from our survey of trainee doctors, Your Training Counts. One in three trainees reported having experienced bullying over the course of their work. Half of those who were bullied reported that it was at the hands of other doctors, while another one in three reported nurses and midwives as being the main source of bullying.
The prevalence of this issue is shocking and has caused many of us to reflect on our own careers. In my view, for many years the prevailing culture in medicine has been that a level of ‘toughness’ was required to withstand difficult working conditions or situations which has been used as a rationale for all manner of behaviour. If you didn’t like working 100 hours a week, it’d be questioned whether you were tough enough to make it in medicine. Similarly if you couldn’t handle a dressing down in front of your peers, you’d be deemed weak. In my experience, it’s been a cycle of behaviour that repeats as doctors progress in their careers, and the prevailing attitude is often that “it was worse in my day.” This kind of attitude has led to a culture that in some instances condones inexcusable treatment of those at the start of their careers.
If a doctor feels they are being bullied, it has an impact on their health and wellbeing and makes it exceptionally difficult for them to reach their potential. It’s very welcome that the HSE is addressing this issue and putting supports in place. It’s not easy to speak out against bullying, and it’s up to the Medical Council, training bodies, and employers to keep this issue on the agenda and help to bring about positive changes that identify and subsequently stop bullying. Through the Your Training Counts survey, trainees have the opportunity to let us know their views on bullying as well as a range of other important issues impacting on their training. We hope that all trainees participate so we can learn from their experience and deliver improvements in future years.