Medical practitioners’ ongoing fitness and competence to practise

Health practitioners Medicine Professional development Australia
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Doctors are the most trusted profession in Australia, along with nurses and pharmacists, according to social research published today into community and doctors’ views about trust, confidence and fitness to practise in the medical profession.

The Medical Board of Australia commissioned the independent social research, as part of its work on revalidation which aims to help make sure that doctors are competent and keep up to date throughout their working lives. The Board has ruled out UK-style revalidation and made it clear that doctors will not be required to re-sit their fellowship exams every five years.

The Board is now engaging with the profession and the community about options for revalidation in Australia, based on recommendations made in an interim report from the Board’s Expert Advisory Group (EAG) on revalidation.

The social research was designed to help the Board understand what the public expects doctors to do to demonstrate ongoing fitness and competence, and what medical practitioners believe they need to do to maintain and enhance their knowledge and skills.

The research analysed feedback from 3,000 doctors and 1,000 members of the community. It found there are some gaps between what doctors now do, and what the community expects. Key findings include:

  • 90% of community trust doctors and nurses, 85% trust pharmacists and 7% trust politicians 
  • doctors and the community agree that the most important attributes for building confidence and trust with patients are effective communication and doctors explaining their diagnosis and treatment 
  • 39% of doctors and 72% of the public think doctors’ practice should be reviewed at least every five years and 
  • 40% of doctors and 5% of the public think doctors should only be reviewed if there are concerns about their practice.
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