Student Treatment

Statement of Policy

The Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago is committed to maintaining an academic and clinical environment in which faculty, fellows, residents, students, nurses, and other medical staff work together freely to further education and research and provide the highest level of patient care, whether in the classroom, the laboratory, or the hospital, and clinics. The school's goal is to educate future physicians to meet high standards of professional behavior as outlined in the Pritzker School of Medicine's Guidelines of Professionalism and to practice in a learning environment where effective, humane, and compassionate patient care is demanded and expected.

The school takes any mistreatment of students by residents, faculty, and medical center employees very seriously and has appointed two faculty members to serve as Ombudspersons to facilitate confidential reporting of potential mistreatment and to raise awareness of appropriate standards of behavior among members of the medical school community.

Expectations of Civil Behavior

The school expects civil behavior in an educational and clinical setting as set forth by the University in the Student Manual of the University Policies and Regulations and the University of Chicago Medical Center's Professionalism and Disruptive Behavior policy. Consistent with these policies, the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine regards all acts of physical harm, threats of physical harm, imposition of physical punishments and evaluation of students on grounds other than those relevant and material to the course or clinical activity as violations of these standards.

The Pritzker School of Medicine encourages faculty and residents to promote a positive learning environment by adhering to the MODEL principle:

M Model professional behavior
O Offer feedback
D Delineate expectations
E Evaluate fairly
L Prioritize learning

Examples of Mistreatment

Mistreatment is defined on the Association of American Medical Colleges Graduation Questionnaire as follows: "Mistreatment arises when behavior shows disrespect for the dignity of others and unreasonably interferes with the learning process. It can take the form of physical punishment, sexual harassment, psychological cruelty, and discrimination based on race, religion, ethnicity, sex, age, or sexual orientation." The AAMC provides the following examples of mistreatment:

  • Public belittlement and humiliation
  • Threatened with physical harm
  • Asked to perform personal services
  • Denied opportunities because of gender
  • Denied opportunities because of race or ethnicity
  • Asked to exchange sexual favors for grades/awards
  • Subjected to unwanted sexual advances

The Pritzker School of Medicine has developed the following rubric to help students and faculty better communicate about inappropriate behaviors.

    Not Mistreatment Mistreatment
M Malicious Intent On the first day of third year, the ward clerk says to the student, “I can tell you guys are newbies,” then offers to help the students find a computer station. Resident purposely gives student misinformation before rounds. Student overhears resident laughing about messing him over.
I Intimidation on Purpose Student working with the chairman of surgery says he feels nervous about operating with him since the chairman can "make or break" his career. Resident tells a student that they intend to make them cry before the rotation is over.
S Sexual Harassment Male student asked not to go into a room because a female patient only wants a female to examine her. Student subjected to offensive sexist remarks or names.
T Threatening Verbal or Physical Behavior A student is yelled at to "get out of the way" by a nurse as a patient is about to be shocked during resuscitation. An attending grabs the student's finger with a clamp OR tells them they are an "idiot" after they could not answer a question.
R Racism or Excessive Discrimination Attending gives student feedback on how to improve performance. Student subjected to racist or ethically offensive remarks or names.
E Excessive or Unrealistic Expectations Student is asked by an attending to review an article and present it on rounds to the team. A resident tells a student that it is their job to perform rectal exams (necessary or not) on all the patients admitted to the service.
A Abusive Favors A student is asked to get coffee for themselves and for the team prior to rounds since the resident did it yesterday. The team gives the student money. A student is asked to pick up an attending’s dry cleaning.
T Trading for Grades A resident tells a student that they can review and present a topic to the team as a way to enhance their grade. A student is told that if they help a resident move that they will get honors.

Reporting Mistreatment

Students are strongly encouraged to report Mistreatment using this online form. Students with concerns about abusive conduct should contact the school's Ombudspersons, any of the Pritzker faculty deans, relevant faculty members (course director, preceptor or the department chair, etc.) or Director of Medical School Education. Any of these individuals can discuss options with the student, offer guidance and support, and assist the student in attempting to resolve the matter informally. Every reasonable effort will be made to maintain confidentiality in such discussions.

If informal resolution is unsuccessful or inappropriate, the Dean for Medical Education, Associate Dean for Medical School Education, Associate Dean of Students, or other University and Medical Center officials may discuss formal University and/or Medical Center procedures to address the situation with the student.

Any conduct that has a serious impact on the academic evaluation of students may be subject to the grievance procedures outlined below.

  • If the person whose conduct is the source of concern is a faculty member, fellow or resident, the School's Dean for Medical Education and the Associate Dean of Students can help the student file a complaint with the relevant department chair or program director and/or the UCM Committee on Professionalism as appropriate. If the person about whom concerns are raised is a student, the Disciplinary Procedures governing students apply.
  • If the person is a staff member, the School's Dean for Medical Education, Associate Dean for Medical School Education, Associate Dean of Students, or Director of Medical School Education may help a student file a complaint with the University Human Resources Management.

Examples of Bias

As an educational and healthcare organization, Pritzker and the University of Chicago Medicine are committed to continuous improvement in their learning, research and clinical environments.  From this perspective, biased behaviors falling short of the malicious or abusive conduct described above are valuable learning opportunities for students, house staff, staff and faculty.  Examples of non-malicious bias include language or behaviors that unintentionally reflect inappropriate bias regarding race, sexual orientation, gender, age or ability.  Just as with errors in clinical, ethical and professional judgment, such language and behaviors warrant feedback with the goal of improvement.

Reporting Bias

Students may report such behaviors through the Pritzker Bias and Mistreatment Reporting Instrument for review.  Assuming permission is given by the student, this feedback will then be used to provide feedback to individual students, house staff, staff or faculty with the specific goal of performance improvement.