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Editorial: Bad behaviour

A report released Monday examines bullying and harassment at Memorial University’s faculty of medicine. —
A report released Monday examines bullying and harassment at Memorial University’s faculty of medicine. — 123RF Stock Photo

It’s not as damning as it might have been, but a report into bullying and harassment at Memorial University’s faculty of medicine shows there’s some work to be done.

The report, by Sandra LeFort, a former director of MUN’s school of nursing, was released publicly on Monday. It says there are some issues that need to be addressed, and the university has since promised to address them.

Perhaps one paragraph sums up the nature of many of the concerns best: “Most residents and administrators do not feel there is a pervasive culture of intimidation, harassment or sexual harassment in the (faculty of medicine). Many feel that ‘most people are great.’ However, most believe there is a culture of tolerance for harassment by certain individuals and in some residency programs. The perception is that these individuals are not held accountable for their bullying, intimidating behaviour.”

The report is, in some ways, something of a primer into the watershed changes that have occurred in most workplaces over the past decade, complete with the fact that there are always managerial and senior staff who simply haven’t managed to keep up with the times.

Clearly, there are problems, but they easily could be far more egregious.

But what makes the report valuable could be something that goes beyond the faculty of medicine, and that’s what everyone else — particularly employers and managers — should take from it.

The report is, in some ways, something of a primer into the watershed changes that have occurred in most workplaces over the past decade, complete with the fact that there are always managerial and senior staff who simply haven’t managed to keep up with the times.

Many of the things described in the report are the kind of behaviour that certainly has the ability to drive people out of medical training — yet, at the same time, in years’ past, may well have been seen as part of a mythical “toughening-up” process needed to turn out good doctors.

In fact, it isn’t needed at all — it is, as the report suggests, unfair and often biased.

So here’s a little exercise: if you are an employer or a supervisor, take the LeFort report, skip by the references that particularly involve the faculty of medicine, and ask yourself if any aspect of the issues being raised are something you might recognize not only as part of your own management style, but as part of the style of some of your senior managers as well.

Yelling, bullying, jokes at the expense of identifiable individuals, comments suggesting that women aren’t up to particular jobs — all of that was found at the faculty of medicine, and in all likelihood, is still found in many other workplaces as well.

It’s a style whose day has come and gone, and anyone who doesn’t realize it should be in for a rude awakening.
Memorial University is on the hot seat today, but has at least committed to address the problem.

Maybe you could say that’s a case of “Physician, heal theyself.”

But you could easily point out, based on the examples in the report, that there are plenty of other employers with some repair work to do, too.

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