What do doctors in Australia think of themselves and their governing bodies? Intrigued? Find out more about the official survey results from the last 2 years as we finish 2020 in time for a new survey.
In late 2019, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) engaged an external agency to prepare a report assessing perception and sentiment towards AHPRA and the main national medical governing boards.
The 2019 Australia’s Medical Practitioners Survey
The 2019 survey went out to both the broader community as a primary stakeholder in healthcare in Australia and to practitioners, with 2048 community responses and just under 6000 practitioner responses.
Of the practitioners, the sample group was broken down into the following demographics:
- Male: 37% /Female: 62%
- 18-49 years old: 53%/49 years and older: 45%
- 0-5 Years in practice: 21%/6-14: 24%/15 and more years: 54%
- Metro: 64%/Regional: 36%
Practitioners who responded included: Psychologists, podiatrists, physiotherapists, pharmacists, paramedics, osteopaths, optometrists, nurses, midwives, medical radiation practitioners, medical practitioners, dental practitioners, chiropractors and Chinese medical practitioners.
The survey offered a range of words practitioners might associate with their profession and also drew a comparison with the same word associations to the average across other professionals.
The top 5 results were:
- Professional: 51% (+4% on other professions)
- Hard working: 42% (+12%)
- Knowledgeable: 37% (+6%)
- Dedicated: 31% (+10%)
- Trusted: 28% (+6%)
The bottom 5 results were:
- Influential: 5% (+3%)
- Passionate: 5% (-8%)
- Team orientated: 7% (-2%)
- Leaders: 8% (+5%)
- Independent: 8% (+1%)
Of special note was also the word “Empathetic, which came in at 17% but this was 5% less than the industry average.
Turning the spotlight onto the Medical Board, while understandably neutral terms such as bureaucratic, regulators, necessary and administrators all ranked highly, terms such as advocates, honest, “shows leadership” and trustworthy all ranked down the bottom.
And when it comes to the more general question of trust in the Medical Board, 53% of medical practitioners answered yes, up slightly from 2018 (52%), while 17% stated outright that they held no trust in the Board.
These results, virtually unchanged from the 2018 survey, point to the Board needing to do some work PR-wise to improve its standing with medical professionals across healthcare in Australia that it represents.
The Qualitative Research: Open-ended Responses
As with all surveys, while the numbers give benchmarks to work from, the open-ended responses also play an important part of the analysis.
Of these, some of the more interesting or standout responses included:
- There needs to be much more engagement with practitioners about how they can be helpful.
- I see them more as regulators than as helpful bodies.
- Both organisations seem overly bureaucratic, increasing red tape and regulation, but unwilling to investigate serious breaches of patient safety.
- Their role as regulators is extremely important for the medical field. But they need to be fair and more transparent.
- I think these organisations work in silos and are sometimes not in touch with the problems faced by practitioners at the coalface.
- Currently, impression of AHPRA remains negative and poor.
- AHPRA needs to be far more responsive to the needs of practitioners being investigated and offer timely, caring, and open communication during the process.
The Takeaways and Where to Next?
What both the quantitative and qualitative results tell us is fairly clear: that while it’s in the very nature of AHPRA and the Medical Boards to be bureaucratic and administrative bodies, this is acting as something of a barrier to them engaging with, and representing better, both doctors in Australia and the variety of other healthcare in Australia practitioners that come under their auspices.
The positive is that such clear results give AHPRA a way forward in planning how better to represent their key stakeholders, but how much it has taken on board from the 2019 survey will be seen when the 2020 survey comes out – although maybe in a year as odd as 2020 has been with the clear and present danger of COVID, these results may not be truly representative and be more like outliers.
Stay tuned… And if you’re looking for support in your next healthcare job, reach out to us today! Check out the 5 Tips to Spring Clean Your Resume or Recruitment Strategies for a Post Covid-19 World.
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