Exploring medical students' perceptions and experiences of bullying amongst hospital-based doctors
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2017 Dr. Caroline Lambert
Historically, in Australia, the topic of bullying amongst doctors has been investigated sporadically. This has recently changed with an increase in research being conducted. However, the focus of this research is often on measuring and establishing the prevalence and impact of bullying in medicine, and is sometimes limited to a specialty, such as surgery, or a particular behaviour such as academic humiliation. Furthermore, both nationally and internationally, the settings for many investigations are educational rather than practice ones. Much research on medical students, and abrasive, bullying behaviours, focuses on gauging prevalence and impact, and often labels these behaviours as something other than bullying. To date, medical student perceptions and experiences of these bullying behaviours amongst hospital-based doctors have been overlooked. The aim of this study was to extend the current understanding of medical students’ perceptions and experiences of workplace bullying amongst hospital-based doctors. To achieve this aim, the research centred on three core questions, asking how medical students perceived and experienced bullying amongst hospital-based doctors, and how power and oppression dynamics might contribute, or extend, the current discourse on bullying and medical student insights and experiences. The sample targeted in the research were medical students who attended one of the medical schools in the State of Victoria, Australia. The participants did not necessarily need to identify as having experienced or witnessed bullying, rather recruitment was based on having insights on hostile or abrasive behaviours amongst hospital-based doctors, therefore based on having some clinical experience within a hospital setting. The research design was qualitative in nature. Sixteen medical students participated in semi-structured interviews. The findings of this study provide an expanded understanding of how medical students perceive and experience bullying amongst hospital-based doctors. New knowledge identifies that using theories, and an associated language of oppression, may assist in understanding further why some medical students report using criteria to define bullying behaviours that is different from that found in policies or legislation. In addition, these theories may explain why medical students will not report bullying behaviours even if they have experienced or witnessed the negative impact of it. Models of oppression can also assist in illuminating why some medical students suggested that bullying behaviours amongst doctors were inevitable or even, at times, reasonable. The individualistic focus of existing studies was also identified as a key issue. Medical students’ inability to explain contextual factors. and dynamics inherent to much bullying amongst doctors was also noted. This study has generated a number of implications for medical education and further research, including the observation that disciplines outside medicine may have unique potential for powerful contributions to the current conversation. The research confirms the complexity of the issue, and establishes the need to keep the subject of workplace bullying amongst doctors firmly on the agenda.
Keywordsbullying; medicine; medical Students
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