Policy on Appropriate Student Treatment

I. Standards for Conduct in the Teacher-Learner Relationship

The academic environment, particularly in medical education, requires civility from all participants, regardless of role or level, and a particular respect for the values of professionalism, ethics, and humanism in the practice of medicine. Because this policy pertains to students as learners, references to “teachers” or “faculty” shall also include housestaff in their teaching and supervisory role with regard to students.

The relationship between teacher and learner is based on mutual respect and trust.  Faculty must respect students’ level of knowledge and skills, which students have the responsibility to represent honestly to faculty.  Faculty are obligated to evaluate students’ work fairly and honestly, without discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, disability or veteran status.  Faculty have a duty not only to promote growth of the intellect but at the same time to model the qualities of candor, compassion, perseverance, diligence, humility, and respect for all human beings.

Examples of unacceptable behavior include but are not limited to:

  • Physical or sexual harassment or abuse
  • Discrimination or harassment based on race, gender, age, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, veteran status or disability
  • Speaking in disparaging ways about an individual including humor that demeans an individual or a group
  • Requesting or requiring students to engage in illegal or inappropriate activities or unethical practices
  • Loss of personal civility, such as shouting, displays of temper, publicly or privately abusing, belittling, or humiliating a student
  • Use of grading or other forms of evaluation in a punitive or retaliatory manner

Students are also expected to maintain the same high standards of conduct in their relationships with faculty, residents, support staff, and fellow students.

II. Procedures for Reporting and Investigating Violations

The formal process for students enrolled in the Medical School (or Medical School portion of the M.D./Ph.D. program) to report abuse or mistreatment is to submit a report through the anonymous web portal.

UTHealth policies concerning misconduct by faculty and staff, including allegations of discrimination (including harassment) and retaliation, are outlined in the Handbook of Operating Procedures (HOOP).  Relevant policies that can be found at https://www.uth.edu/hoop/index.htm include Policies 39, 59, 108,109, 183, and 186. The Vice Dean for Student Affairs will advise and assist the student in following applicable procedures of the institution.

III. Dissemination and Education

In order to make sure that faculty, residents, fellows, and students are aware of the Policy on Appropriate Student Treatment, several mechanisms for dissemination are used.

The policy  is available through the Medical School website on the main student, faculty, and house staff web pages.

Students are provided with a standardized review of the policy and instructions on reporting procedures during initial orientation and transition to their clerkship year by deans in the Office of Admissions and Student Affairs and Office of Professionalism. This is reviewed with them again at the beginning of each clerkship by clerkship directors and the appropriate clerkship staff including coordinators.  Visiting students are provided with information on how to report mistreatment and the Policy on Appropriate Student Treatment electronically and hardcopy.  The policy is available to students at all times on the Medical School website.

 The policy is shown to residents and fellows, including visiting residents/fellows, during their initial onboarding orientation by the Graduate Medical Education (GME) leadership and the policy is incorporated into the GME Information Management System used by all GME trainees.

During faculty member’s annual employment review, full-time and part-time faculty acknowledge the appropriate student treatment policy. New full-time and part-time faculty initially complete this within the first 90 days of employment. Volunteer faculty, identified as with-out salary (WOS) faculty, are informed during the WOS compliance training annually. New volunteer faculty complete this within the first 30 days of their appointment. The compliance training and tracking for full-time and part-time is completed through Human Resources and the Office of Compliance. The compliance training and tracking for volunteer faculty is completed through the medical school’s Office of Administration and Faculty Affairs.