Workplace Bullies Prevalent Among Medical Practitioners

A report from the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) revealed that the country’s medical industry has a “toxic culture” particularly among Australia’s surgery departments.  Said departments are reportedly filled with sexual harassment and workplace bullying.

Professor David Watters, President of RACS, said that the victims of workplace bullies and sexual harassers shared their stories and described the devastating impact it had on their personal and professional lives.  According to the report, nearly half of Australian surgeons experienced discrimination, bullying and harassment at work.

What’s alarming is that 40 percent of surgical fellows, trainees and international medical graduates reported they were victims of work bullies.  Meanwhile, nearly 20 percent of surgeons admitted to having experienced discrimination and workplace harassment.  Sexual harassment incidents also measured 7 percent, mostly against women.

The numbers are quite daunting and it doesn’t paint a good picture of Australia’s medical industry.  It seems that speaking up also isn’t working since most of the reported sexual harassment cases reportedly continued on even after the complaint was raised.  It raises the question of whether medical institutions in the country have the proper procedures, policies and correct focus to solve or help with workplace bullying and harassment.

It also is sad that the “toxic culture” is preventing victims from making a formal complaint.  The affected workers and professionals are worried that it may have a negative impact on their career.  Some have even termed speaking up as “career suicide.”  A respondent reportedly said, “I still fear that he could ruin my reputation and destroy my life.”  What a scary working environment to be in.

Meanwhile, the RACS promised to come up with an action plan by November, to address workplace bullying and harassment.


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