Bullied trainee doctors twice as likely to take their skills abroad

Frequently bullied trainee doctors are twice as likely to emigrate compared to those who are never bullied, it has emerged. Also, trainees who have an illness, health problem or disability that limits their daily activity are twice as likely to want to leave.

The survey from the Medical Council found that older doctors in training — those aged 35 to 39 — are more likely to want to go abroad.

Older doctors training in specialties such as radiology, anaesthesia, psychiatry, and medicine are more likely to leave than those training in occupational medicine, pathology, and paediatrics.

Overall, 21% of trainees did not intend practising medicine in Ireland; 54% intend practising in Ireland for the foreseeable future; with one in four undecided.

Trainees intending to leave Ireland reported a lower wellbeing, poorer quality of life, and worse health than those intending to stay. More male trainees (25%) than females (18%) intend emigrating and among doctors under 35, 56% are women. Across all age groups on the register, 41% are women.

The survey also shows that Cork, Galway, Waterford, and Westmeath have the highest density of general practitioners per 100,000 of the population. Longford, Kilkenny, and Monaghan have the lowest.

President of the Medical Council, Prof Freddie Wood, said there was now clear evidence on why doctors were choosing to leave medical practice in here.

“These findings will inform the work of postgraduate medical training bodies, employers and policy-makers as part of a system-wide focus on retaining as many Irish-qualified doctors as possible,” he said.

“The fact is that the skills learned in medical training are highly transferable and those trained in Ireland are sought after in what is now a global market.”

And, he said, if doctors did not have a positive experience during their training here, they should not be expected to stay.

“This report shows that the career decisions made by doctors are not just about pay and conditions but are influenced by many factors relating to the quality of the environment they are trained in,” he said.

The chief executive of the Medical Council, Bill Prasifka, said the report showed just how damaging experiences of bullying and undermining could be to trainee doctors.

He also said it was “very concerning” that doctors with a disability were more likely to intend not practising here. He said the finding suggested those doctors were not being facilitated adequately to train and work to their full potential.


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