RACS Action Plan signals cultural change in surgical practice


Earlier this year, an Expert Advisory Group (EAG) commissioned by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) released the results of its research into cultural issues in surgical practice, revealing widespread “discrimination, bullying and sexual harassment” (DBSH) as significant and persistent problems in medical work environments.

The issue featured heavily in mainstream media and was followed by many in the industry, as well as by law firm DibbsBarker which has a particular focus on the Life Sciences & Healthcare sectors.

Following the release of the EAG’s final report in September, the RACS released its Action Plan last month, foreshadowing a number of changes and initiatives that will seek to achieve cultural and transformational change in the practice of surgery.

Perhaps one of the most significant elements of the Action Plan is that surgeons will be required to undertake compulsory training as part of a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) program. The training will focus on:

  • Promoting awareness and understanding about what constitutes DBSH
  • Teaching skills of resilience in maintaining professional behaviour
  • Encouraging those who see bad behaviour to “call it out”, not simply walk past it
  • Promoting organisational change to nurture respect and good behaviour

While the Action Plan includes a range of other initiatives that will develop in the weeks, months and years to come, it is never too early to start focusing on training which will play a significant part in eliminating DBSH from the surgical practice industry.

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