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13 Jun 2019

BY DR CHRIS WILSON, CO-DEPUTY CHAIR, AMA COUNCIL OF DOCTORS IN TRAINING  

From internship through to fellowship, every doctor in training can think of jobs they’d go back to in a heart beat and in equal numbers, roles they’d run a mile from. The quality of supervision, workplace culture and education opportunities are all critical in shaping the experience of DiTs. 

Anecdotally, the advent of activity-based funding, the drive for efficiencies in health and the influx of new graduates have combined to increase the stress and erode the quality of our prevocational and vocational training programs.  At least that’s how it feels.

The problem is that word – ‘anecdotally’.  We don’t have any high-level data to say how medical training is faring.  As trainees we’re totally reliant on the word of our colleagues when it comes to assessing the educational quality of a job before we work it. When outrageous and unsafe roles with zero education value reach the public consciousness, too often they’re easily dismissed as one-offs or outliers. But how do we know? The truth is we don’t because we’ve never asked. This is especially so in the black hole of unaccredited service registrar positions.

The AMA Council of Doctors in Training, in conjunction with the Confederation of Postgraduate Medical Councils, has spent years pushing for the creation of a national training survey as a way to track and compare training across the prevocational and vocational spectrum; in hospitals, primary care and anywhere else doctors in training work. We made the point that there was no robust data around training to the 2015 Internship review (https://ama.com.au/submission/medical-intern-review) and thankfully, the reviewers and COAG agreed with us.

Now coined the Medical Training Survey, AMA CDT has been there since its inception. We were part of the robust discussions on questions, we argued and gained agreement that you can’t divorce training from other components of work like supervision and workplace culture.

There is safety and power in numbers. In the last 12 months we’ve seen the bravery of individuals stepping forward to call out unhealthy, unsupported and unsafe roles. Behind the few that make their concerns public, we know there are many more trying to keep their heads down and survive. The Medical Board has been tasked with delivering the MTS, meaning the survey will be independent of our employers and the Colleges, and we have agreement not to release data that could identify individuals. 

It’s a crowded survey space for DiTs, including our own AMA Hospital Health Checks. However, we believe the Medical Training Survey will provide the training data and comparisons we’ve been seeking. It will shine a light onto service roles with no educational value. It will highlight employers who prioritise the training of their doctors for the good of their staff and their patients. But it won’t achieve all this without your input. 

The strength of the MTS will be in the volume of responses. It is beholden on all of us to spend the 10 minutes to complete the survey, not just those who feel their job could be improved. The data from roles we love will give us the standard against which to assess those we don’t. The MTS will expose those outlier roles and give us robust data to argue for accreditation of the lost tribe of service registrars.

The MTS will open August 1 and close in line with the AHPRA registration period. 


Published: 13 Jun 2019