Sexual harassment in medicine – it’s one thing to come forward anonymously to the media, but another altogether to make formal allegations against your boss

Following on from my article yesterday congratulating Dr Gabrielle McMullin for starting the conversation about the sexual harassment of female doctors in training, it’s time to think about where to from here.

If you were a female trainee experiencing sexual harassment while completing a Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, would you report the allegations to the College? Given that the Discrimination and Harassment Policy they have posted on their website was issued in February 2009 and due for review in February 2012, it would certainly make me wonder if the College is in a position to respond in an appropriate manner. Perhaps now might be the right time for this policy document to be revisited.

RACS policy

On Saturday, Julia Medew, one of the Fairfax journalists who has been reporting on the controversy has been looking for instances of sexual harassment from women in medicine to publish in her latest story.

So why are we focusing on the profession of surgery? The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) has been put at the centre of the allegations by Dr McMullin. On Sunday they mentioned their mentoring program for women in surgery:


The point has also been raised that “support” is one thing, but how effective is it if your career is decimated anyway?

Interestingly,, the RACS pointed people to their 2009 policy over the weekend. The RACS does have a January 2014 guidelines document relating to bullying and harassment.  However, if the allegations reported by media outlets across the country are correct, it’s going to take more than a guidelines document to stop the harassment being experienced by some women in medicine.


I hope that Dr Gabrielle McMullin has been the catalyst for a change in the culture in medicine, and that anyone going through medical training, male or female, can do so without being harassed.

Amanda Griffiths – Founder My Health Career.

will female doctors come forward about sexual harassmentMore articles on My Health Career:

Image: artur84 – freedigitalphotos.net

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