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Fresh lens exposes variations in experience of medical training across genders

18 Apr 2024

Australia’s doctors in training report differences in their experience of medical training based on their gender, according to results of the 2023 Medical Training Survey.

The Medical Training Survey data shows variations in doctors’ access to research, the quality of orientation and payment for overtime between trainees, according to gender.

While serious concerns about the culture of medicine were raised by doctors in training of all genders, non-binary trainees reported the least-safe workplace.

Results of the 2023 Medical Training Survey were published in December 2023. Today, the Medical Board of Australia published a further breakdown of the 2023 MTS results, detailing experiences by gender of medical trainees.

Five years of MTS data are published in searchable form on the Medical Training Survey website, enabling comparisons across specialties, jurisdictions and gender.

Of the more than 23,000 doctors in training who participated in the 2023 Medical Training Survey, 18,000 participants answered the question about their gender. Of these, more than 9,000 trainees identified as female, 8,000 as male and 67 as non-binary.

Trainees who identified as non-binary reported the highest rates of experiencing bullying, harassment, discrimination and/or racism. Female trainees consistently reported higher rates of experiencing bullying, harassment, and discrimination than male trainees.

Non-binary trainees reported witnessing bullying, harassment, discrimination and racism at nearly double the rate reported by both male and female trainees. There were smaller variations in reported rates of witnessing these behaviours between male and female trainees.

The source of the behaviour varied across genders. Male and female trainees identified senior medical staff as the primary source, and non-binary trainees identified medical colleagues (registrars and other doctors in training) and other health practitioners as mostly responsible for the behaviours.

The reasons trainees did not report an incident they had experienced also differed across genders. Non- binary trainees indicated that they did not report incidents because they believed nothing would be done and/or there was a lack of support, while male and female trainees indicated concern about repercussions.

Medical Board Chair, Dr Anne Tonkin AO, said the established link between poor culture and increased risk to both patient safety and doctors’ wellbeing required urgent attention.

“This detailed data exposes the impact of gender on doctors’ experience of medical training. With this knowledge, must come action", Dr Anne Tonkin said.

About the MTS

The 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 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.

For more information

Page reviewed 18/04/2024