Standards of Behavior

Education Council Statement on Institutional Standards of Behavior in the Learning Environment

The medical learning environment is expected to facilitate students' acquisition of the professional and collegial attitudes necessary for effective, caring and compassionate health care. The development and nurturing of these attitudes is enhanced by and, indeed, based on the presence of mutual respect between teacher and learner. Characteristic of this respect is the expectation that all participants in the educational program assume their responsibilities in a manner that enriches the quality of the learning process.

While these goals are primary to the educational mission of the University of Minnesota Medical School, it must be acknowledged that the social and behavioral diversity of students, faculty, residents, and staff, combined with the intensity of the interactions between them, will from time to time lead to alleged, perceived or real incidents of inappropriate behavior or mistreatment of individuals. Examples of mistreatment include sexual harassment; discrimination or harassment based on race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, physical handicap or age; humiliation, psychological or physical punishment and the use of grading and other forms of assessment in a punitive manner. The occurrence, either intentional or unintentional, of such incidents results in a disruption of the spirit of learning and a breach in the integrity and trust between teacher and learner. The diversity represented by the many participants in the learning process requires the University of Minnesota Medical School to identify expectations of faculty, students, residents and staff and a process through which concerns can be resolved.

The Education Council of the Medical School is charged with the responsibility for continuing review of the curriculum. This responsibility is taken to mean a continuing review of the process by which teaching and learning take place. In this regard the Council provides the ultimate oversight in relation to acceptable standards of behavior of those in the teaching and learning process.

Whereas the behavior between faculty, graduate teaching assistants, residents, and medical students should at all times be governed by collegiality and respect for individual rights, be carried out through exemplary interpersonal behavior and above all be characterized by adherence to principles which facilitate learning, the Education Council endorses the following procedures/principles:

  1. Educational activities shall be organized to promote student learning in a humane manner, which will foster professional growth.
  2. Physicians, residents, and medical students shall display mutual respect for colleagues as professionals and individuals and avoid disparaging comments about specialties and other medical centers and institutions that might demean a student's interests and be disruptive to important physician-physician relationships.
  3. Methods of evaluation shall reflect course goals and objectives and be accompanied by timely feedback on performance. Performance shall be reported to students in a timely manner.
  4. In all cases, students concerned about behavior of faculty and other teachers, which they believe is not in accordance with acceptable institutional standards, shall be encouraged to discuss or submit their concerns to the course director as a first step. This can be done in person or by using the rotation evaluation form as a vehicle for anonymous feedback. Alternatively, the students may wish to discuss concerns with Paul Quie, M.D., Regents' Professor of Pediatrics, whose duties in the Office of Education include serving as a student ombudsperson. Alternatively, the student may discuss the concerns with the department head or with any of the senior administrators in the Medical School Office of Education. When problems require additional deliberation, the Education Council may become involved.
  5. The University of Minnesota has mechanisms currently in operation that provide faculty, staff and graduate students with opportunities to pursue grievances through a formal review process.
  6. For concerns relating to sexual harassment, students may contact the Medical School Equal Opportunity Officer, Ms. Mary Tate, at 625-1494.

[Adopted from statement of the Medical School Education Council, April 17, 2001]