Intellectual Responsibility

University of Minnesota Medical Student Statement of Intellectual Responsibility 

As a stream cannot rise above its source, so a code cannot change a low-grade man into a high-grade doctor, but it can help a good man to be a better man and a more enlightened doctor. It can quicken and inform a conscience but not create one.   

—International Code of Medical Ethics

Part I: General Principles

The University of Minnesota Medical Student Statement of Intellectual Responsibility (SIR) is established in the belief that central to any intellectual and professional endeavor is an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect, based upon individual maintenance of community standards. The hallmark of becoming a physician is that the individual is willing to: increase awareness of his personal and social values, profess these special values, and self-regulate his behavior and monitor the behavior of his peers according to these values. Central to this, is an awareness and an affirmation of the fact that one's medical education is the product of one's own intellectual effort. Therefore, every student who enrolls and remains at the Medical School understands that to submit work that is not his or her own original efforts, or to default on clinical obligations, violates the purpose and spirit of medical education and is cause for peer review.

It is not possible for a community to legislate morality. Indeed it is understood that intellectual responsibility is internal and that the standards delineated in this statement may or may not be those of the individual. However, the precepts of a community must be respected and upheld by all members of that community.

The SIR is planned as a broad outline of standards within which each student is expected to exercise his or her own judgment, and pledge that he/she will honor and adhere to the principles stipulated therein. When presented with an allegation of a violation of the SIR, the student Peer Review Committee (PRC), as outlined in its Constitution, carefully considers all relevant factors, in order to determine whether probable cause exists that a violation did in fact occur and that such acts are prohibited by the SIR. The PRC will use procedural due process as a guide to its action and maintain strict confidentiality. At the discretion of the PRC the Committee on Student Scholastic Standing (COSSS) of the Faculty Assembly is contacted either for advice, execution of disciplinary action, or a new hearing of the case.

Part II: Specific Provisions

In addition to the general principles of ethical conduct mentioned above, each student is bound by the following specific provisions as part of the University of Minnesota Medical Student Statement of Intellectual Responsibility:

  1. Each student will respect the intellectual and physical property of others, and will not use such property without the owner's permission.
  2. Each student recognizes the right and obligation of the Medical School Executive Faculty to establish and maintain high standards of academic performance. Examinations will represent the student's individual, and original, efforts only; during the examination the student will not use information provided by other individuals, notes, textbooks, or other references, except as specified by the evaluator. Backpacks/bags should be closed/zipped during the examination. Any book, papers, notecards or written materials should be inside the closed backpack/bag or otherwise not on one's person.
  3. Each student recognizes that his/her primary responsibility while on clinical rotations is the care of his/her patients. The patient's welfare has precedence over a student's personal educational objectives. The student will respect every patient's privacy and dignity and will maintain confidentiality with regard to information about patients. Each student recognizes his/her responsibility to consult with the residents or attending physician regarding each patient's management.
  4. Each student recognizes that clinical obligations include providing coverage when assigned, e.g., at clinics, at night, or on weekends. This includes attendance at all mandatory educational programs. When such assignment is made, a student will abide by it or make suitable alternative arrangements with the staff member who made the assignment. If a student is convinced that such an assignment is inappropriate, the matter must be discussed with the course coordinator.
  5. Each student will confidentially report other students who violate the SIR to a member of the PRC. The PRC will then investigate according to the procedures of the PRC Constitution. Strict confidentiality must be observed at all times. Responsibility for a violation rests not only with the violator but equally with any student who is aware of the violation and fails to deal with it properly.
  6. Often a student is not completely certain a violation has occurred. The student is obligated to report observations if he/she has a reasonable, good faith basis to believe that a violation may have occurred.

Part III: Statement of Intent

Upon matriculation into the University of Minnesota Medical School each student will be asked to sign the following statement as affirmation of the intent to uphold the ethical principles described above.

"I hereby affirm that I understand and accept the provisions and stipulations of the University of Minnesota Medical Student Statement of Intellectual Responsibility."

Any student who chooses not to sign the SIR is required to submit a statement of his/her own to the Medical School for its approval. This statement should address the intellectual responsibilities involved in examination policy, peer review, and patient care.


Revised by the Peer Review Committee – April 21, 2015
Approved by the Student Council – April 22, 2015