Time to confront #MeToo in medicine, CMAJ editorial argues

August 21st, 2018 Respect in the Workplace

The medical community is plagued by bullying, sexual harassment and discrimination, according to a new editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that says the hierarchical culture that allows silence needs to change.

The editorial, published Monday, questions why medicine hasn’t had its own #MeToo moment and suggests built-in biases and unprofessional workplaces may be the culprit.

“As a profession, we need to stop excusing unprofessional behaviour toward colleagues just because physicians are accomplished in clinical care or academia,” wrote authors Jayna Holroyd-Leduc, deputy department head of medicine at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine and Sharon Straus, director of the Knowledge Translation Program at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute in Toronto.

The #MeToo movement, which encourages people to speak out about sexual harassment and violence, has touched numerous industries, from film to journalism and politics, in recent months. The editorial states that even though a prominent male physician hasn’t been in the #MeToo spotlight, the work force faces many problems with harassment, bullying and other forms of abuse and needs to find solutions.

While research has shown women, particularly students and trainees, may be most susceptible to harassment in medicine, Dr. Holroyd-Leduc said men are also affected. Part of the problem is the nature of medicine, which involves years of training, long hours and high stress levels, can contribute to an unhealthy, unprofessional work environment, she said. MORE

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