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February 2021 - MTS

Update Medical Board of Australia

Chair’s message 

More than half Australia’s doctors in training did the 2020 Medical Training Survey (MTS). A huge thanks to every one of those 21,000 doctors, who together have created a solid evidence base for continuous improvement.

The MTS data are rich and provide fascinating insights. In broad terms, 2020 results are consistent with 2019 MTS data. 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.

There’s also serious work for us all to do to improve the culture of medicine. For the future of our profession, we must listen to what thousands of trainees have told us and collectively prioritise the work needed to build a culture of respect. 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.

Dr Anne Tonkin
Chair, Medical Board of Australia

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Medical Board of Australia – Special edition – MTS

The MTS – a national, annual, profession-wide survey of doctors in training

Giving trainees a voice: the Medical Training Survey

The Medical Training Survey (MTS) is a national, annual, profession-wide survey of all doctors in training in Australia. It is confidential and safe for doctors in training to take part. The MTS asks doctors in training about their experience of medical training across a range of domains including:

  • curriculum
  • workplace environment and culture
  • workload
  • training and educational opportunities, and
  • overall satisfaction.

In 2020 there were also questions about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on training.

The MTS is led by the Medical Board of Australia and Ahpra. It was developed with the help of many others including doctors in training, specialist medical colleges, jurisdictions, postgraduate medical councils, Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association, Australian Medical Council, Australian Medical Association, Medical Council of New South Wales and Doctors’ Health Services.

The MTS provides robust national data that will help improve and strengthen medical training. It runs each year in August and September.

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2020 Medical Training Survey results

Results are in: what trainees said in 2020

  • 2020 and 2019 MTS results are consistent.
  • There’s a lot going well in medical training in Australia.
  • There’s work to do to improve the culture of medicine.
  • COVID-19 had a big impact, but it wasn’t all bad.

There’s a lot going well in medical training in Australia, according to more than 21,000 doctors in training.

A snapshot of results in 2020 shows:

  • 87% of doctors in training who responded to the survey rated the quality of their clinical supervision and training very highly
  • 75% said their orientation was good or excellent
  • 81% would recommend their current training position to other doctors
  • 66% of trainees work more than 40 hours per week, but many value the extra training opportunities this provides
  • prevocational and unaccredited trainees report that they value and rate highly the training they receive – but these training opportunities are limited. Better training for this important group of doctors will lead to better care and safety of patients in Australia and is an important opportunity for action
  • 49% of Australia’s international medical graduates (IMGs) who hold limited or provisional registration responded, and of these respondents, 83% 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.

Bullying, harassment and discrimination

Revised questions about the culture of medicine in 2020 paint a clearer and disappointing picture. The 2020 MTS results confirm that there is a lot still to be done both in medicine and the wider health sector.

  • In 2020, 34% of doctors in training reported they had experienced and/or witnessed bullying, harassment or discrimination, consistent with 33% in 2019. Broken down by cohort of doctor, the proportions who had experienced and/or witnessed bullying, harassment or discrimination were:
  • 47% of interns
  • 39% of prevocational and unaccredited trainees
  • 36% of specialist non-GP trainees
  • 23% of IMGs, and
  • 21% of specialist GP trainees.
  • The primary sources of the bullying, harassment and discrimination experienced by trainees were by consultants and specialists (51%), nurses or midwives (36%) and patients and/or patients’ family/carers (34%).
  • 66% of trainees said that they did not report the incident they experienced, and 78% did not report the incident they witnessed.

For the future of our profession and the safety of our patients, we must all listen to what the thousands of trainees have told us and work together to build a culture of respect in healthcare.

Impact of COVID-19

Questions in 2020 asked about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • About 80% said the pandemic had had an impact on their training.
  • One-third of trainees overall reported it having had a negative effect.
  • Nearly half (46%) said the impact on their training was mixed.
  • More than one-third (37%) said it had led to innovative ways to learn.

The results of the MTS are presented unadorned. As promised, we have prioritised confidentiality and results are only published when there were 10 or more responses.

You can access the 2020 results in a series of static reports or with an online reporting tool, available on the MTS website.

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Access MTS results now

MTS results are public and accessible

  • Read published reports.
  • Create your own report, comparing your hospital, specialty or state/territory with the national average.
  • Results are safe and confidential and only reported when there are 10 or more responses.

You can access the MTS results online now.

Published reports

You can read the results in the form of static reports, which present data by year, state and territory, specialist medical college and type of doctor in training.

Create your own report

Use the online dashboard to create your own report.

You can select filters, choose to see the data as a graph or in a table, and output your report in either PDF or PowerPoint.

You can track year-on-year results and compare your hospital site or specialty with the national average.

Select as many filters as you want, switch on the national average option if you want to see how the areas you’ve selected are faring compared to the national response. Statistical differences are shown when you’re using filters and comparing results, year-on-year.

We’ve prioritised safety and confidentiality, and only report on results when there were more than 10 responses.

We’ve also made a short video with tips on using the interactive data dashboard that helps you create your own reports. Watch the video or read the User guides, and access the dashboard on the MTS website.

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Contacting the Board

  • The Medical Board of Australia and Ahpra can be contacted by phone on 1300 419 495.
  • For more information, see the Medical Board of Australia website and the Ahpra website.
  • Lodge an enquiry form through the website under Contact us at the bottom of every web page.
  • Mail correspondence can be addressed to: Dr Anne Tonkin, Chair, Medical Board of Australia, GPO Box 9958, Melbourne, VIC 3001.

More information

Please note: Practitioners are responsible for keeping up to date with the Board’s expectations about their professional obligations. The Board publishes standards, codes and guidelines as well as alerts in its newsletter. If you unsubscribe from this newsletter you are still required to keep up to date with information published on the Board’s website.

Comment on the Board newsletter is welcome and should be sent to [email protected].

For registration enquiries or contact detail changes, call the Ahpra customer service team on 1300 419 495 (from within Australia).

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Page reviewed 26/05/2023