02 Feb 2021
There’s a lot going well in medical training in Australia, according to more than 21,000 doctors in training who did the 2020 Medical Training Survey (MTS).
The MTS is a national, annual, profession-wide survey of all doctors in training in Australia, funded by the Medical Board of Australia and developed collaboratively with stakeholders including doctors in training. It is safe and confidential for doctors in training to take part and runs annually in August/September.
In broad terms, the 2020 MTS results are consistent with 2019 data. Trainees generally rated the quality of their training highly but concerns about the culture of medicine persist.
Medical Board of Australia Chair, Dr Anne Tonkin, said the MTS data were rich and provided fascinating insights.
'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,' Dr Tonkin said.
'But there is serious work for agencies across the health sector to do to improve the culture of medicine,’ she said.
In 2020, 87 per cent of doctors in training who responded to the survey rated the quality of their clinical supervision very highly, 75 per cent said their orientation was good or excellent, and 81 per cent would recommend their current training position to other doctors.
The 2020 survey had a very strong response rate with 57 per cent of doctors in training doing the survey, compared with 27 per cent in 2019. This provides robust national data about the experience of doctors in training.
Prevocational and unaccredited trainees value and rate highly the training they receive - but these training opportunities are limited.
Dr Tonkin said there was an opportunity to provide prevocational and unaccredited trainees with greater access to training.
About 66 per cent of all trainees reported that they work more than 40 hours per week but many value the extra training opportunities this provides.
Nearly half Australia’s international medical graduates (IMGs) with limited or provisional registration did the MTS (49 per cent). Encouragingly, 83 per cent of IMG respondents said they were very satisfied with their training experience.
Doctors in training who identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander rated their training slightly lower than the national response, found their training plans extremely useful if they had them, and reported higher levels of discrimination, bullying and harassment.
The results of revised questions about the culture of medicine in 2020 paint a clearer and disappointing picture, confirming that there is a lot still to be done both in medicine and the wider health sector, Dr Tonkin said.
In 2020, 34 per cent of doctors in training reported they had experienced and/or witnessed bullying, harassment or discrimination, consistent with 33 per cent in 2019.
Nearly half Australia’s interns (47 per cent) experienced and/or witnessed bullying, harassment or discrimination, followed by 39 per cent of prevocational and unaccredited trainees, 36 per cent per cent of specialist non-GP trainees, 23 per cent of IMGs and 21 per cent of specialist GP trainees.
The sources of the bullying, harassment and discrimination experienced by trainees was by consultants and specialists (51 per cent), nurses or midwives (36 per cent) and patients and/or patients’ family/carers (34 per cent).
Importantly, 66 per cent 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,' Dr Tonkin said.
'We must keep our trainees safe and make it safe for them to speak up. An urgent and shared commitment to this across medicine and the wider health sector will lead to safer patient care,' she said.
There were questions in the 2020 MTS about the impact of COVID-19. About 80 per cent said the pandemic had impacted on their training. One third of trainees overall reported it having had a negative effect. Nearly half said the impact on their training was mixed, and more than one third said it had led to innovative ways to learn.
The Board has prioritised trainee confidentiality and results are only published in a de-identified and aggregated format, and when there are 10 or more responses for any given question.
You can access 2020 results in a series of static reports or with an online reporting tool, accessible from the MTS website. The reporting tool enables users to compare results year on year, or compare hospital site or specialty with the national average. A short video includes tips on using the interactive data dashboard that helps you create your own reports. Watch the video or read the User guide, and access the dashboard on the MedicalTrainingSurvey.gov.au website.
The Medical Training Survey (MTS) is a national, annual, profession-wide survey of all doctors in training in Australia. It is safe and confidential for doctors in training to take part. The MTS asks doctors in training about their experience of medical training - across curriculum, workplace environment and culture, workload, training and educational opportunities and overall satisfaction. In 2020 there were questions about the impact of COVID-19 on training.
The MTS is run by the Medical Board of Australia and Ahpra and was developed collaboratively with doctors in training, specialist medical colleges, jurisdictions, postgraduate medical councils, Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association, Australian Medical Council, Australian Medical Association, NSW Medical Council, Doctors’ Health Services and other stakeholders.