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Student Mistreatment Policy

Standards of Conduct in the Teacher-Learner Relationship


The University of Maryland School of Medicine is committed to maintaining an environment where there is mutual respect between student, teacher, and amongst peers.  Each member of this academic community is entitled to respect and should treat all others, regardless of status, respectfully and courteously. Professional relations should be characterized by civility.   It is expected that authority will not be abused. Abuse or misuse of authority, even if unintentional, may compromise or damage other members of the community.

More specifically, it is expected that all members of this academic community will treat each other with respect and dignity, no matter what station, degree, race, age, sexual orientation, religion, gender, disability and/or disease, and that they will:Treat patients, families, colleagues, other health professionals, students, and teachers with the same degree of respect and dignity they would expect for themselves.

  • Not use offensive language when interacting with any others in the community.
  • Not harass others physically, verbally, psychologically, or sexually.
  • Not abuse one's power or position for sexual and/or romantic ends.
  • Not discriminate on the basis of sex, religion, race, disability, age, or sexual orientation.
  • Treat all physicians, other health professionals, students, and other trainees as professionals in a professional manner

Inappropriate Behaviors Toward Students

The School of Medicine prohibits behavior that is abusive or which mistreats students or others in the learning environment. For purposes of this policy, a “teacher” shall be defined as any person subject to School of Medicine policies, such as a member of the School of Medicine faculty, to whom a student is assigned during a course or clinical rotation.  All clinical facilities to which a student may be assigned for a course or clinical rotation will be asked to comply with this policy.  To that extent, a teacher” may also be defined as an attending physican, fellow, resident physician, nurse, or other person charged with supervising the education of the student.  Examples of inappropriate behaviors may include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Physical punishment or physical threats;
  • Sexual harassment;
  • Discrimination based on race, color, creed, religion, national origin, gender, sex, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran's status, or sexual orientation;
  • Episodes of psychological punishment of a student by a particular superior (e.g.,  threats and intimidation, unjustified removal of privileges);
  • Grading used to punish a student rather than evaluate objective performance;
  • Assigning tasks for punishment rather than to evaluate objective performance;
  • Requiring the performance of personal services;
  • Taking credit for another's work;
  • Intentional neglect or intentional lack of communication.

Policies and Procedures

University of Maryland, Baltimore

The following policies of the University of Maryland, Baltimore govern certain aspects of inappropriate behavior toward students and provide procedures for the reporting and acting on allegations of such behaviors.  For more campus policies regarding students, click here.

University of Maryland School of Medicine

The basic principles defining the teacher-learner relationship are set forth in Principles 6 and 8 of the Statement of Ethical Principles, Practices and Behaviors of the School of Medicine.

University of Maryland Medical Center

The Code of Professional Conduct of the Medical Executive Committee of the University of Maryland Medical Center (May 25th 2004) addresses issues relevant to the teacher-learner relationship in its section on Respect for Persons.

Reporting of Alleged Inappropriate Behavior

It is the policy of the School of Medicine that concerns, problems, questions, and complaints may be discussed, without fear of retaliation, with any member of the faculty or administration of the School of Medicine. The assistance provided may include counseling, coaching or direction to other resources in the School of Medicine or the University of Maryland, Baltimore.  The University Counseling Center is also available to assist students on a confidential basis.  The Office of Student Affairs is available to assist students in pursuing the most appropriate route for processing a complaint.  Retaliation for reporting of an allegation of student mistreatment on the part of any person in a teaching role may be grounds for investigation by the School or the Medical Center as a possible violation of these standards.  

Procedures for filing a complaint with the Judicial Board of the School of Medicine are provided in the Academic Handbook. 

Distribution and Education

This policy shall be publicized and made available to all facilities and departments to which medical students are assigned as part of the required curriculum, and to all personnel with teaching responsibilities.

(adopted: April 4, 2007)  

Students as Patients

During ICM I, ICM II, 3rd year Orientation and potentially other year 1/2 settings, students may be asked to serve as patient volunteers for teaching purposes.  In a supervised teaching environment, student volunteers may be examined by their preceptors or fellow students to illustrate the techniques of the physical examination.  This could occur in a small group setting or occasionally, if a student is asked to volunteer, in a large group setting.  Students often are enthusiastic to participate in this portion of their education, but it should be clear that functioning as a patient volunteer is completely optional and not expected as part of medical school training at UMSOM.  Students will not be asked to volunteer for intimate portions of the physical exam such as the breast, genital, rectal or pelvic exam.  During practice interviewing sessions, student volunteers are not expected to reveal any personal information about themselves or their health.  Students who decline to act as patient volunteers will not be penalized for lack of participation, and this decision will not adversely affect their evaluations in any way.  Students may also express their own parameters under which they will volunteer (for example, same gender only, limited body parts examined and exposed, specific exams excluded, etc.).  Students may also withdraw their consent to volunteer at anytime, even during the middle of an exam.

Before the year 1/2 courses begin each year, and before third year orientation, the students will be reminded about the possibility of serving as a patient volunteer and asked to communicate any preferences to the course director, who will relay this information to their preceptors.  Students may also contact OSA Deans.  Students who decline to participate as patient volunteers are not expected to offer any explanation for their choice to opt out of this teaching experience.  We understand that there may be numerous legitimate reasons that students may feel uncomfortable fulfilling this role. 

Additionally, students may have abnormal physical findings that could be revealed by the examinations.  If this happens, students should seek the guidance of their personal physicians.  These exercises are not intended to serve as a means for receiving medical evaluation or guidance, since teaching physicians can not replace a student's private physician.  All students are encouraged to establish care with a primary care physician prior to participation in group and as part of routine health maintenance during medical school. 

All students are reminded that any information revealed or disclosed in such a group setting is strictly confidential within that particular group or between the individuals involved.  

(adopted: October 10, 2008)  

Last Revision: September 11, 2018