This year's Ahpra renewal will come with a link to a survey. Yes, it's August and I think I'm somewhere in the high 100s of survey invites, and wistfully imagining winning the occasional iPad or gift card that's sometimes used as a lure.
We all did research methodology at university, were examined on study design and critically apprise studies routinely as part of the practice of evidence-based medicine.
What makes the daily survey invite all the more frustrating is that a lot of the time these assessments don't feel particularly well designed. Questions are often leading and clearly biased, and it is often unclear who is running the survey and what will ever come of the results.
Even a quick trip to the shops comes with a customer service survey invite. And as a lovely sales assistant explains that anything less than a 10/10 is a fail, you internally cringe at the methodology. If anything less than a 10/10 is a stick to beat sales assistants with, how will an organisation ever really improve their customer experience?
Surveys in health often feel the same.
As doctors in training, we are exposed to the worst elements of service delivery - the administrative tasks and time consuming system workarounds that take us away from educational opportunities and meaningful patient contacts, and continue to contribute to the high burnout and low job satisfaction among DiTs.
I've dutifully done many surveys, of variable quality, and yet workarounds seem to get more complex, administration more burdensome, education more mass produced and meaningful patient contact - the reason most of us got into this game - less and less. I'm sure patients were sent yet another survey asking them how I was as a clinician (as I spent most of my time in an office wrestling with various IT systems). I'm also pretty sure I didn't get a 10/10.
So why am I writing about another survey of all things? Why is this one any different?
Called the Medical Training Survey, it's being run with your Ahpra registration with results collated by the Medical Board. The aim is to improve medical training across Australia, by identifying what works and what doesn't, and to look at the system issues that are both helping and hindering our progression to becoming tomorrow's specialists.
This survey is the result of much advocacy by DiTs regarding the modern medical training environment. Also, unlike many previous top-down surveys, DiTs were heavily involved in the survey and question design.
No one is asking for a 10/10 - just that you push through the fog of survey fatigue and reward what seems like a genuine attempt at gathering information on medical training in Australia, so that hopefully we can get away from our computers and back to our patients.
Author: Dr Megge Beacroft