Bullying, humiliation and sexual harassment in the medical profession are being brought to light in a Wollongong stage play based on true stories.
Grace Under Pressure delves into workplace and training culture of nurses and doctors, and is finally touring to the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre from May 12.
Co-director David Williams said the verbatim play is the culmination of dozens of interviews with health workers and highlights "quite endemic problems in medicine".
"What we non-health people don't fully realise is the widespread level of brutalisation that happens in the profession," he said.
"Historically, that's been justified by the notion stakes for health workers are life and death, so they're always under lots of pressure - therefore, if you can't handle the pressure you don't deserve to be a doctor."
Mr Williams said he was astounded to hear many of the "horrendous" stories during the process of the play's creation and also discovering they were often common occurrences.
"Everyone had been at some point in their career so exhausted ...that car crashes were so common, they were just really ordinary," he said.
"There certainly are some confronting stories in the play ... but also we were asking our interviewees their moments of joy and satisfaction."
Tales of being publicly humiliated for making a mistake in a way to degrade and embarrass are coupled with more heart-warming stories, like from the maternity ward on the night of a full moon and helping to deliver eight babies.
Mr William worked with fellow director Paul Dwyer, along with a contingent from the Sydney Arts and Health Collective (a group using creative arts to tackle bullying, harassment and mental health among healthcare workers).
Sydney Medical School's Associate Professor Karen Scott is also part of SAHC and worked closely with the directors on this production, as well as evaluating its impact so far.
"Because the script is made from people's real words, the idea is you're trying to represent reality and trying to trigger in [the audience] a recognition of the issues that are occurring and seeing if it resonated with them," Prof Scott said.
Previous productions have had a large attendance from health professionals as well as their family and friends, which brought a lot of realisations from the non-health patrons as well.
"For them, they realised why their family and friends might come home feeling so degraded and have mental health issues," Prof Scott said.
"That's important for the general public to realise what's going on, so they can be part of this groundswell to bring about change and also to support their family and friends in what they're dealing with."
Since the production debuted in 2017, Prof Scott said follow-up research in recent months had found some healthcare workers who saw the show were now actively trying to bring about change.
Mr Williams said he wants all patrons to leave thinking about how can society better care for the people who care for them.
Grace Under Pressure is at IPAC from May 12 to 15. More details, including a Q&A session via: www.merrigong.com.au