Fair Treatment of Students

Approved by Executive Committee 9/17/15. Updated by BSOM 6/23/16.

Policy

The Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, hereinafter referred to as the School in this section, is strongly committed to a policy of fair and equal treatment for all members of its community. In addition, the School has a responsibility to foster in medical students, postgraduate trainees, faculty, and other staff the development of the kind of professional and collegial attitudes needed to provide caring and compassionate health care. In pursuit of these goals, the School recognizes that each member of the medical school community should be accepted as an autonomous individual and treated civilly, without regard to his or her race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, age, or disability. In accordance with LCME element 3.9, these policies are listed below.

"A medical school defines and publicizes its code of professional conduct for faculty-student relationships in its medical education program, develops effective written policies that address violations of the code, has effective mechanisms in place for a prompt response to any complaints, and supports educational activities aimed at preventing inappropriate behavior. Mechanisms for reporting violations of the code of professional conduct (e.g., incidents of harassment or abuse) are well understood by students and ensure that any violations can be registered and investigated without fear of retaliation."

Mistreatment
Boonshoft School of Medicine Ombudsperson, 2016-2019
Kim Gilliam, Ed.D., (937) 775-2950 (24/7 message line), kim.gilliam@wright.edu

An atmosphere of mutual respect and collegiality among teachers and students is essential to the educational mission of the School. However, the diversity of the members of the academic community, the intensity of the interactions that occur in the health care setting, differences in personality, and other factors may lead to incidents of inappropriate behavior or mistreatment. The victims and perpetrators of such behavior might include students, faculty, residents, nurses, or other staff. For purposes of this policy, to mistreat is to treat in a harmful, injurious, or offensive way. The following are examples of mistreatment to:

  • speak insultingly or unjustifiably harshly to or about a person
  • belittle or humiliate
  • demean on the internet
  • threaten with physical harm
  • physically attack (e.g., hit, slap, kick)
  • require the performance of personal services (e.g., shopping, babysitting)
  • threaten with a lower grade for reasons other than course/clinical performance

Such actions are contrary to the spirit of learning and professionalism, violate the trust between teacher and learner, and will not be tolerated by the School. Accusations of racial or gender discrimination or harassment are not handled under this policy, but rather under other medical school and university policies: the Bias Incident Response Team or the WSU ombudsperson. Likewise, disputes over grades are handled by the School’s academic policies as described in this Medical Student Handbook.

In order to promote an environment respectful of all individuals, the School will provide ongoing education to students, residents, faculty, and other staff emphasizing the importance of professional and collegial attitudes and behavior. Also, the School will make available a readily-accessible neutral party (the School’s ombudsperson) whom parties may approach if they believe that have been mistreated.

A process has been established to seek reconciliation between the parties in cases of alleged mistreatment. This process seeks to protect the accuser from retaliation and to protect the rights and reputations of all parties involved in a complaint.

Process: Resolution of Claims of Mistreatment

When an allegation of student mistreatment occurs, the parties directly involved should try to resolve the matter themselves since many such incidents are amenable to resolution in this manner. In some situations, however, this informal approach might be hindered by various factors, including reluctance of the accuser to approach the accused, intransigence of the accused, or differing perceptions of the incident by the parties involved. In such cases, a more formal alternative process is available for resolving the matter. This process is designed to be fair to both the accuser and the accused and to be perceived by the accuser as effective, impartial, and unlikely to result in retaliation.

The position of ombudsperson has been established to help resolve such conflicts. The ombudsperson is appointed by the Dean of Medicine for a term of four years. The ombudsperson's role is to maintain a neutral point of availability to initiate the dispute-resolution process.

Informal Dispute Resolution Process

The first communication between the ombudsperson and the person whose action is the subject of the claim will be informal. It is intended to clarify the source of the conflict as well as to identify possible avenues of resolution. The ombudsperson will describe the matters raised by the complainant and request a response from the respondent. The respondent will explain his or her position to the ombudsperson and provide any existing documentation. The ombudsperson will attempt to help each party communicate with the other and understand the other's view of the situation in order to help the parties resolve the matter in a constructive manner. If it appears to the ombudsperson that there may be areas of flexibility which could lead to a mutually agreeable resolution, the ombudsperson will help the parties pursue those areas. If, at the conclusion of these efforts, both parties are satisfied with the proposed resolution, the matter is resolved. Otherwise, the ombudsperson shall act to begin formal proceedings by interacting with the Dean's office to schedule a meeting of the Dispute Resolution Council (DRC).

Formal Dispute Resolution Process

The DRC members are chosen to provide a fair and impartial representation of the various constituencies involved in the medical education process. Each member is appointed by the Dean of Medicine after being recommended by the relevant body.

  • Two preclinical and two clinical students, nominated by the Medical School Student Council
  • Two preclinical and two clinical faculty members, nominated by the faculty
  • Two residents, nominated by the Graduate Medical Education Committee
  • The ombudsperson, ex officio member who votes only to break ties
  • Additional members. The Dean of Medicine may appoint additional members if necessary or desirable to provide appropriate racial or gender representation, or to provide appropriate representation for groups involved in the claim (e.g., nurses, staff) that are not otherwise included in the DRC.

The Dean of Medicine will appoint the chair from the committee membership.

When the DRC hears a case, the ombudsperson, accuser, and accused are present. The ombudsperson is responsible for notifying the parties in advance of the date, time, and place of the DRC meeting.

  1. The proceedings begin with the ombudsperson presenting the claim.
  2. The accuser and accused both have an opportunity to speak and to bring witnesses to speak. The order of speakers is as follows:
    1. a. the accuser
    2. b. witnesses for the accuser
    3. c. the accused
    4. d. witnesses for the accused
  3. The accused has the right to be present whenever statements are being made by the ombudsperson, the accuser, or any witnesses. Similarly, the accuser has the right to be present during statements by the ombudsperson, the accused, or witnesses.
  4. Witnesses will be present only when they are called to give information. After speaking, they will be asked to leave, in order to protect the confidentiality of the parties involved. Both the accused and accuser can be harmed by breaches of confidentiality, and all who are involved in the process of responding to allegations must maintain confidentiality.

In some situations, the DRC might be justified in communicating ordinarily confidential information to other university officials, provided there is a legitimate "need to know." The accuser and accused are not allowed to bring lawyers to DRC meetings as advocates, advisors, or observers, nor may they bring any other persons, except witnesses. This process is intramural, and its purpose is to resolve the problems without going outside the university. The process of dispute resolution embodied in the DRC is intended to be as flexible as possible. The parties may present any evidence or testimony they wish to the DRC. The DRC will decide credibility issues of any evidence presented. After all parties have presented their evidence, all individuals who are not members of the DRC will leave the room, and the DRC will discuss the claim and arrive at a conclusion. The DRC will designate one person to prepare a memorandum setting forth the conclusions and recommendations of the DRC. All DRC members will review the memorandum for accuracy and sign it. The completed memorandum will be forwarded directly to the Dean of Medicine. Upon receipt, the Dean of Medicine will notify both the accuser and the accused of the DRC’s recommendations. The Dean of Medicine will advise the parties that either party has seven business days to request an appeal, and that if neither party requests an appeal within the time allowed, the DRC's proposed actions will be implemented.

Appeal of Dispute Resolution

  1. Either party may initiate an appeal of the DRC’s recommendations by notifying the ombudsperson of his or her desire to appeal. Upon the initiation of an appeal, the ombudsperson shall notify the Dean of Medicine, who will appoint an appeal panel (Panel) for purposes of hearing the appeal.The Panel will be composed of one member from each constituency represented in the original DRC. The Dean of Medicine will appoint each member after consulting with the relevant constituency groups.
  2. The Panel will not hear new evidence and will only review the testimony presented and the conclusions and DRC’s recommendations forwarded to the Dean of Medicine.
  3. The Panel will, by majority vote, support or reject each recommendation of the DRC.
  4. The Panel's decision and all relevant documentation will be forwarded in writing to the Dean of Medicine.
  5. The Dean of Medicine will review the relevant documents and notify the student in writing of the final decision.

Retaliation

Every effort will be made to protect alleged victims of mistreatment from retaliation if they seek redress. Although it is impossible to guarantee freedom from retaliation, it is possible to take steps to try to prevent it and to set up an individualized process for responding to each incident.

To help prevent retaliation, those who are accused of mistreatment will be informed that retaliation is regarded as a form of mistreatment. Accusations that retaliation has occurred will be handled in the same manner as accusations concerning other forms of mistreatment; however, accusations of retaliation shall be subject to a higher level of scrutiny.

Last edited on 05/01/2018.