Trainee ophthalmologists in Australia would recommend their profession to other doctors, but bullying and long work hours still need to be addressed, according to the Medical Board of Australia’s 2020 Medical Training Survey (MTS).
Seventy-four trainee ophthalmologists were among the almost 22,000 medical trainees in Australia who responded to the survey. The majority of RANZCO trainees agreed that they knew how to access support for stress and psychological distress (73%), felt they would be confident to raise concerns about bullying, harassment and discrimination (including racism) in the workplace (72%), and that most senior staff are supportive (93%). However, 24% of those trainees have also experienced bullying, harassment and/or discrimination within the last 12 months, despite 77% of them agreeing that such behaviour was not tolerated in their workplace.
The average RANZCO trainee worked 49.7 hours a week, which is 4.1 hours more than Australia’s national average of 45.6 hours. However, 65% of those surveyed felt that they had a good work/life balance. Encouragingly, in spite of the effects of Covid-19 – including suspension of training for part of the year and exams being pushed back to the end of the year – 75% rated their ophthalmology orientation as excellent or good, with 94% saying the same for the quality of teaching sessions. RANZCO trainees fared particularly well with assessments, with 84% agreeing that exams always reflected the curriculum (compared to 58% nationally) and 90% saying the exam information provided by the college was always accurate and appropriate (compared to the 65% national average).
Asked how they saw their careers progressing, RANZCO trainees were most interested in medical teaching (86%), followed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healthcare (68%), rural practice (66%) and medical research (63%). Just 19% of RANZCO respondents were concerned about being able to secure employment after completing their training, compared to 49% of national respondents.
While encouraged to see the majority of medical trainees rating their training highly, Australian Medical Association president Dr Omar Khorshid said, “The results show we have more work to do to address long-standing issues – unpaid overtime, excessive hours… and, most importantly, stamping out bullying and harassment, which is still a big issue in medicine and health.”