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Intensive care needed for Australia’s medical culture

Media release

1 July 2019

The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) is calling for an urgent review of working conditions and culture in Australia’s medical workplaces.

AMSA President, Ms Jessica Yang, said today that a recent spate of clinical training sites being stripped of college accreditation or having trainees removed has raised concerns among Australia’s future doctors about inappropriate working conditions and unsafe training culture.

“The recent drastic actions from specialty Colleges indicate that unacceptable work environments for trainee doctors are persisting despite recent media spotlight on the medical profession,” Ms Yang said.

“The College of Intensive Care Medicine (CICM) stripping hospitals of accreditation sends a hard-line message that the College is prioritising the mental health of their trainees and will not tolerate unsafe training conditions.

“It is fantastic to see such a strong message from a specialty College. It shows they recognise that workplace culture plays a significant role in doctors’ wellbeing.

“We hope that these actions act as a catalyst for positive change so that these drastic measures aren’t needed again,” Ms Yang said.

Ms Yang said that exposure to bullying and poor culture begins in medical school.

“Medical students oppose the practice of ‘teaching by humiliation’, Ms Yang said.

“To us, it seems the purpose is clearly not educational, but to demonstrate how much you don’t know. It is the wrong approach.

“We want to be able to train safely and maintain our wellbeing to become the best doctors we can be – and this includes our mental health,” Ms Yang said.

AMSA expresses its condolences for the family, friends and colleagues of the two junior doctors who died by suicide in recent weeks, and urges anyone who is struggling to contact Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636), LifeLine (13 11 14), or the Doctors’ Health Advisory Service (02 9437 6552).

AMSA is the peak representative body for Australia’s 17,000 medical students, approximately 3500 of whom will be entering the medical workforce at the beginning of 2020.

Media contact

AMSA 2019 Public Relations Officer

Madeleine Goss