The medical profession is not immune to bullying, harassment and discrimination, and in this #MeToo era, it is time that physicians, medical schools and institutions aim to abolish these behaviors, argue the authors of an editorial in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
“A work climate that enables bullying, harassment, discrimination, and micro-aggressions can negatively affect a person’s health and career pathway,” write Drs. Jayna Holroyd-Leduc, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, and Sharon Straus, St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, Ontario. “Harassment and discrimination of female medical staff and trainees are well documented.”
Unprofessional behavior affects both men and women, and it can affect patient care. Organizational factors that may lead to inappropriate behaviour include poor leadership, power imbalances, unconscious biases, and a culture of silence.
“As a profession, we need to stop excusing unprofessional behavior toward colleagues just because physicians are accomplished in clinical care or academia,” they write.
The authors suggest that measures of professionalism be included in review and promotion processes. Medical workplaces should also have safe, transparent processes to report and investigate unprofessional behavior, as well as strategies to address unprofessional behavior.
“It is time that all Canadian medical schools and health care institutions implement and evaluate initiatives aimed at achieving a culture of respect within medicine. The medical profession — and ultimately patient care — will improve for all when we treat each other with respect, regardless of gender, age, race or stage of career,” they conclude.