The information and video below gives valuable insight into what is bullying, harassment and undermining behaviour and how these issues can be constructively dealt with. In itself this educational tool, although helpful, will not make change happen. This material would be best used as part of a wider learning experience where individuals can make sense of the issues and reflect on their own experience, attitude and behaviour.

Studies show that there is a link between poor educational supervision and the likelihood of bullying or undermining behaviour presenting in the workplace. In 2009, the PMETB (now GMC) annual trainee survey revealed that a significant number of trainees in obstetrics and gynaecology have felt undermined at some point in training. The College is committed to developing both trainers and trainees to ensure that all Obstetricians and Gynaecologists demonstrate the highest standards of professional behaviour.

The videos aim to help trainees and trainers reflect on the way they interact with each other on a daily basis. The videos also give advice on what to do if you feel you are being subjected to undermining behaviour.

  • Bullying may be characterised as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour. It is an abuse or misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient
  • Harassment is defined as unwanted conduct felt by the recipient to create an environment that is intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive. It can be based on particular personal criteria such as age, experience, physical or mental disability, domestic circumstance, gender, sexual orientation, race, colour, religion or belief, ethnic origin, language, political or Trade Union affiliation

If the video does not present as an embedded image, click the green links to access the website from which the videos are streamed.

Undermining behaviour video 4: Senior and junior trainee interactions from RCOG Education on Vimeo.

The College would like to thank members of the IDEAL, Education Centre, Southampton University Hospitals Trust (Wessex Deanery) for coordinating the development of these resources for the RCOG.

The RCOG would also like to thank Miss Helen Richardson (Associate Dean Northern Deanery) for her research contribution to this work.

If you have any further questions or comments, whether you are a trainee, trainer or non-clinician requiring further information about these resources, please email

Disclaimer: The individuals in the above videos are performing to demonstrate what constitutes undermining behaviour in practice. The scenarios have been coordinated for the RCOG and under no circumstances shall the RCOG be liable for any special or consequential damages arising from the use or reliance on information contained within these videos. We regret that it is not possible for the RCOG to offer medical or professional advice for any one individual. School or Deanery protocols should be consulted if it felt that there is a case of bullying and further advice or disciplinary action is to be taken. Non-clinical users of this website seeking advice on any medical condition relevant to the clinical conditions within the videos should consult their medical practitioner.

© 2012 Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG)

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