This figure was updated on 4 February 2022 to show the correct numbers for ‘Specialties’.
The Medical Board of Australia is proud to have run
another successful Medical Training Survey and we are
grateful for the support of doctors in training and other
stakeholders. The results will help to improve medical
training and the culture of medicine in Australia.
The Board continued its work on the Professional
Performance Framework, dealt with a number of issues
related to COVID-19, and progressed its policy agenda.
We were delighted to more than double the response
rate for the second Medical Training Survey (MTS)
compared with the first survey in 2019. More than 21,000
(57%) doctors in training provided feedback about the
quality of their training. They told us that there is a lot
going well in training, with 87% who responded to the
survey rating the quality of their clinical supervision and
training very highly, and 81% saying that they would
recommend their current training position to other
Revised questions about the culture of medicine painted
a disappointing picture: 34% of doctors in training
reported they had experienced and/or witnessed
bullying, harassment or discrimination. We all need to
do more to build a culture of respect in healthcare.
We asked about the effect of
the COVID-19 pandemic. About
80% of respondents told us
that the pandemic had had an
impact on their training with
46% reporting the impact as a
mix of positive and negative,
while one-third reported it
having had only a negative effect.
Results can be found at
www.medicaltrainingsurvey.gov.au. We published more
than 30 reports by jurisdiction, specialty and type of
doctor. We also have an online dashboard for anyone to
produce customised reports and have published case
studies about how stakeholders are using MTS data to
improve and strengthen medical training.
The Board’s Professional Performance Framework is a
long-term project that, when implemented, will help
ensure all registered medical practitioners in Australia
practise competently and ethically throughout their
The framework is integrated, builds on existing
initiatives and is evidence-based. It has five pillars:
The Board submitted a revised registration standard for
continuing professional development (CPD) to Health
Ministers for approval. The proposed CPD standard
includes a requirement for medical practitioners to:
The Board previously announced a plan to require
practitioners aged 70 and over to have regular health
checks. This was based on expert advice that increasing
age is a known risk factor for
poor performance. The Board
expects that the vast majority
of late career practitioners
will continue to practise in
their usual way. The Board
worked on a registration
standard about these health
checks. It will consult widely with stakeholders about
Over six months in 2019, the Board consulted on options
for clearer regulation of medical practitioners who
provide complementary and unconventional medicine
and emerging treatments. It looked at options to best
protect patients and minimise the risk of harm to them,
without stifling innovation, making a judgement about
specific clinical practices or limiting patients’ right to
choose their healthcare.
The Board received more than 13,000 submissions, the
majority of which it published during 2020. The Board
considered all the submissions and decided that it will
not issue guidelines but rather, continue to rely on the
existing standards framework set out in Good medical
Through the consultation feedback it became clear
that the proposed solution did not match the problem
the Board was trying to solve. The persisting issue of
patients being offered high-risk treatments that do
not have an evidence base of safety and efficacy is
not limited to complementary and unconventional
medicine and emerging treatments. Also, the problem
of vulnerable patients not being provided with the
information they need to give genuinely informed
consent is not limited to a specific area of practice.
The Board will continue to refine its risk-based
regulatory approach, so that regulatory safeguards
match the risks to patients across all areas of practice.
This work will not be limited to specific areas of practice
and will be developed over time.
The Board issued an updated
version of Good medical
practice: a code of conduct
for doctors in Australia that
took effect on 1 October. It
describes what is expected of all doctors registered to
practise medicine in Australia. It sets out the principles
that characterise good medical practice and makes
explicit the standards of ethical and professional
conduct expected of doctors by their professional peers
and the community.
The changes do not significantly change expected
professional standards. Updates include:
Jointly with the other 14 National Boards, the Medical
Board developed Guidelines for advertising regulated
health services that were issued on 14 December. The
guidelines were developed to help practitioners and
other advertisers understand their obligations when
advertising a regulated health service.
National Boards and Ahpra also published other useful
information about advertising for registered health
practitioners and consumers in the Advertising hub on
the Ahpra website.
Revised standards to guide how specialist medical
colleges assess international medical graduates (IMGs)
took effect on 1 January.
The updated Standards for specialist medical college
assessment of specialist international medical
graduates aim to improve transparency and procedural
fairness and make the requirements of the assessment
clearer. They do not significantly change the previous
approach to the assessment of specialist IMGs.
Medical practitioners who want to use the protected
title ‘acupuncturist’ must have their registration
endorsed for acupuncture by the Medical Board of
Australia, or also be registered with the Chinese
Medicine Board of Australia. The Medical Board’s
registration standard for Endorsement of registration
for acupuncture for registered medical practitioners
defines the requirements for granting endorsement of
registration for acupuncture to medical practitioners.
The Board consulted on a revised registration standard
as the existing standard was due for review.
The Board acknowledges the
important role and enormous
contribution of doctors as
they deal with the COVID-19
Most of the Board’s
regulatory responses to
COVID-19 were made early
in the pandemic and aimed
to alleviate some of the
bureaucratic burden on practitioners. The Board has:
The Board published 10 regular editions of the Medical
Board Update and one newsletter dedicated to the
Medical Training Survey and its results.
The Board published its first edition of a medical
student update in April. This is part of a broader
engagement strategy with students. The newsletter
included information about student registration, the
Medical Training Survey and the importance of looking
The Board responds to many media requests for
comment on a range of issues. We also receive requests
for comment about individual practitioners, but the
information we can provide is limited by law.
The Board has an active program of stakeholder
engagement that includes regular meetings with the:
The Board held a forum with stakeholders about the
results of the MTS and also met with all the professional
indemnity insurers. We held our regular annual meeting
with representatives of the AMA to discuss initiatives
introduced to improve the notifications process.
The Board has a program of internal stakeholder
engagement to promote consistency of decisionmaking
and respond to feedback from our decisionmakers.
This includes regular meetings with the Chairs
of state and territory boards and the Chair of the
National Board visiting each state and territory board.
The Board considered each of the AMC’s accreditation
reports and decided whether to approve the relevant
accredited program of study for registration.
The Medical Board and Ahpra appreciate the enormous
stress that many medical practitioners experience when
a notification (complaint) is made about them.
The Board has been working with Ahpra to improve the
notifications process and, where possible, to deal with
low-risk matters quickly to allow us to focus on highrisk
matters and to reduce the duration of stress for
We employ medically qualified clinical advisors who
review all complaints early and apply a clinical lens to
each complaint. We also schedule six meetings each
week of the Notifications Assessment Committee,
which includes medical practitioners and community
members, and can deal with notifications quickly.
The Board worked with Ahpra on a revised approach to
notifications. While the most serious of cases continue
to be investigated in the traditional way, the new
approach for lower risk matters (which are the majority
of cases we receive) involves speaking directly to the
practitioner so we can gather early information about
the practitioner’s individual practice, reflection and their
actions in response to notified events.
We assess the
notification before deciding whether there is ongoing
risk that requires regulatory intervention.
We also commissioned Professor Ron Paterson, who
authored the 2017 Independent review of the use of
chaperones to protect patients in Australia, to assess
what had been achieved and identify what more could
be done to improve the handling of sexual misconduct
allegations. Professor Paterson reported that the
processes had greatly improved over the past years.
Dr Anne Tonkin