MD Students: Reporting Mistreatment and Concerns about the Learning Environment

Welcome to the medical student reporting webpage

The Office of Undergraduate Medical Education (UGME) and the Office of Clinical Partnerships and Professionalism (CP&P) work closely together to ensure that your learning environment is:

  1. conducive to the ongoing development of explicit and appropriate professional behaviors in its medical students, faculty, and staff at all locations; and
  2. one in which all individuals are treated with respect.

The purpose of this webpage is to provide information with respect to mistreatment and the learning environment, and to provide online reporting of complaints and concerns.

The Office of CP&P has overall responsibility for the management of complaints relating to equity and professionalism, including breaches of Faculty of Medicine Professional Standards; learner mistreatment; and the learning environment.

The Office of UGME addresses concerns based on incidents and experiences that negatively affect the learning environment.


Is this mistreatment?

The American Association of Medical Colleges defines mistreatment as public belittlement; threats of or actual physical punishment; requirements to perform personal services, such as shopping; sexual harassment; and discrimination or offensive remarks based on gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

Categories of Mistreatment

Behaviour Possible examples of mistreatment Possible examples that are not mistreatment
Publicly humiliated A student is told, in rounds, that he/she is stupid or lazy when he doesn’t know the answer to a question. A student doesn’t know the answer to a question directed to him/her in rounds and the preceptor says to look it up.
Threatened with physical harm Preceptor pounds her hand on the desk and says loudly “If you do that again I will smack you”. Staff person shouts to a student to get out of the way before electric shock is applied to a patient.
Physically harmed Staff person slams a chart down on a students’ hand, saying, “Read it again”. Student is inadvertently burned during cautery in surgery. Surgeon apologizes.
Required to perform personal services A student is asked to pick up an attending’s dry cleaning. A student is asked to get coffee for themselves and for the team prior to rounds. The team gives the student money.
Subjected to remarks about political affiliation A preceptor says to a student who they know is a supporter of the conservatives: "I'm surprised you even want to be a doctor. Shouldn't you be in business or something?" No general or specific comments on political affiliation.

Behaviour Possible examples of mistreatment Possible examples that are not mistreatment
Subjected to unwanted sexual advances Hand on a shoulder, Staff saying “I would like to teach you something… later” Hand on a shoulder, “How are you doing?” after the unexpected death of a patient.
Asked to exchange sexual favours for grades or other rewards An Attending or Resident tells a student “I’m sure your evaluation will improve if we talk about it over dinner……” A resident tells a student “Let’s meet after rounds to talk about your mid-rotation evaluation. I will help you with organizing your case presentations."
Denied opportunities for training or rewards based on gender Nurse says to patient, “we only have a male medical student today. You probably don’t want to be seen by a guy?" Staff person says to student, “I’ll ask the patient if she is ok with being seen by a student."
Subjected to offensive sexist remarks/names Preceptor says, “Hi Gorgeous” and to patient, “Aren’t we fortunate to have the lovely Margaret with us today? Hard to believe she’s a medical student!” Preceptor says to patient, “This Margaret. She’s the fourth-year medical student on our team today."
Received lower evaluation/grades based on gender Preceptor says: "I don’t expect you to get your hands dirty in the OR. You should really think about psych or family – you girls are so good at those soft skills." Preceptor says to all students “All students will do well in this rotation if you are prepared to put in the work."

Behaviour Possible examples of mistreatment Possible examples that are not mistreatment
Denied opportunities for training or rewards based on race or ethnicity Preceptor says to student from ethnic minority when they meet for the first time: “ I really don’t think that you will find this subspecialty is for you.” Preceptor supports all students in their career plans.
Subjected to racially or ethnically offensive remarks/names Preceptor says: “You people make great pathologists – you don’t have to talk to your patients” No comments are made about race or ethnicity.
Received lower evaluations or grades solely because of race or ethnicity rather than performance Preceptor says “My experience is that people like you are better generalists than specialists.” No statements are made about race or ethnicity.
Subjected to offensive remarks about religion A preceptor says to a student observing Ramadan, "you better let go of that if you want to survive residency in this specialty."

A preceptor says to a student observing Ramadan, "you better let go of that if you want to survive your rotation here."

A preceptor says to a student observing Ramadan, "you know, I'm not too clear on the purpose of Ramadan, would you mind explaining to me as we walk to rounds?"

Behaviour Possible examples of mistreatment Possible examples that are not mistreatment
Denied opportunities for training or rewards based on sexual orientation Preceptor says: “I don’t think you will like Ortho. It’s a pretty tough specialty – too much heavy lifting for a guy like you.” No general or specific comments about sexual orientation.
Subjected to offensive remarks/names related to sexual orientation Preceptor says “You seem like a really nice person – strange that such pretty girl would like girls instead of guys”. No general or specific comments about sexual orientation.
Received lower evaluations or grades solely because of sexual orientation rather than performance Preceptor says “My impression is that people like you are super sensitive and not really cut out for this specialty.” No general or specific comments about sexual orientation.
Subjected to discriminatory remarks regarding gender identity "All these new gender neutral washrooms, why can't you people use the one they're supposed to? They've been doing it all their lives up until now." No general or specific comments on gender identity.


If mistreatment happens:

  1. Make yourself safe: stay calm, remain polite, get yourself out of the situation. If you need to call security or 911, do so. You shouldn’t go back if you won’t be safe.
  2. Talk to someone you trust
    • This initial discussion can help
    • Some suggestions: peer, trusted faculty member, family, friends, formal student representatives, religious leader, family doctor
  3. Document what happened from your perspective for your future reference
  4. Talk to someone within UBC and/or the Faculty of Medicine. You are encouraged to speak initially with someone within your program or at your site.
  5. Report the mistreatment by contacting one of the following people or use the online reporting form.

Is this a learning environment concern?

A Learning Environment concern refers to the inappropriate conduct of any member of the UGME learning environment or community, that may be directed at a group or an individual learner that has a significant negative impact on the learning environment or community.


Reporting Process

UGME students who wish to report an incident of student mistreatment (whether or not you wish to make a formal complaint) OR a Learning Environment concern – should use this form to report online.

All reports will be reviewed and triaged by the Office of Clinical Partnerships and Professionalism (CP&P). The reporting of complaints and concerns is a confidential process which means that the information provided is disclosed as appropriate only to those within UGME and CP&P with responsibility to address the concern or complaint or as required to meet obligations imposed by University policy or legislation. In most cases disclosure of information will be discussed with the student.

If you are reporting mistreatment, a representative from the Office of CP&P will contact you within 5 working days to discuss next steps. Generally student mistreatment is a complaint driven process. While it may be possible to address the issues informally, resolution of these complaints may require a more formal process involving investigation. A student’s complaint will not proceed without the student’s consent although in some cases the Faculty of Medicine may proceed with a formal investigation and resolution without the student named as the complainant. In these circumstances the student will be informed and every effort will be made to maintain confidentiality.

If you are reporting a concern with your learning environment, the Associate Dean UGME may contact you within 5 working days to obtain additional information and to discuss next steps. Further review and follow-up of the reported concern will be assigned to the Course Director, Department Head or Regional Associate Dean’s Office as appropriate.

If you are reporting a concern related to equity, including discrimination on the basis of the enumerated grounds in human rights legislation, a representative from the office of CP&P will contact you within 5 working days to discuss next steps which may include referral to the UBC Equity Office (See UBC Policy #3).

If you are reporting a claim of sexual violence or sexual assault a representative from the office of CP&P will contact you within 5 working days to discuss making a disclosure or a report to the Independent Investigations Office. (See UBC Policy #131). In the case of sexual violence or sexual assault, access appropriate medical and/or police support immediately.

All outcomes will be reported to the Office of CP&P. This office will maintain a data base of all reports of learner mistreatment and learning environment concerns.

Anonymized data related to these complaints and concerns will be included as part of the UGME Learning Environment Annual Review. UGME may provide a general report on outcomes and on initiatives implemented to address Learning Environment concerns.

In appropriate circumstances and to the extent permitted by privacy legislation information related to outcomes may be shared with complainants following the investigation process.


If you feel that you have experienced or witnessed mistreatment or have concerns about your learning environment, we encourage you to report it using one of the following methods:


Support resources for medical students

  • Physician Health Program has a 24 hour confidential help phone line: 1-800-663-6729
  • Lavender Toolbox is a resource to help aide in building resiliency in doctors
  • Contact one of the following people at UBC for support
  • Contact a student from the SOS Volunteer List located under the Student Affairs section in Entrada

Other resources

Faculty resources


Contacts

Reach out to one of the following people for support or to report.

To make a report you can contact the Professionalism Advisor (professionalism.advisor@ubc.ca) from the office of the Executive Associate Dean of Clinical Partnerships and Professionalism.

Or, if you are unsure of who you can contact, please reach out to any of the following people and they can help find the appropriate person to talk to.

Paul Gill
Health & Safety Advisor (all learners in the Faculty of Medicine)
paul.gill@ubc.ca

Cheryl Holmes
Associate Dean, Undergraduate Medical Education (UGME) Program (students in the MD Undergraduate Program)
cheryl.holmes@ubc.ca

Janette McMillan
Associate Dean, Student Affairs, MDUP (all students in the MD Undergraduate Program)
janette.mcmillan@ubc.ca

Carol Ann Courneya
Assistant Dean, MD Undergraduate Student Affairs, Vancouver Fraser Medical Program (students in the VFMP Program)
courneya@mail.ubc.ca

Christina Roston
Assistant Dean, MD Undergraduate Student Affairs, Vancouver Fraser Medical Program (students in the VFMP Program)
christina.roston@ubc.ca

Fraser Black
Assistant Dean, MD Undergraduate Program, Students Affairs, Island Medical Program (students in the IMP Program)
fblack@uvic.ca

Melanie Reed
Assistant Dean, Student Affairs, SMP (students in the SMP Program)
melanie.reed@ubc.ca

Leigh Hunsinger-Chang
Assistant Dean, Student Affairs, NMP (students in the NMP Program)
leigh.hunsinger-chang@unbc.ca

Shirley Nakata
Ombudsperson for Students (impartial information on fair process for all students)
ombuds.office@ubc.ca

Carol Naylor
Acting Director, Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office (SVPRO) (support and reporting for all of UBC)
carol.naylor@ubc.ca

Roshni Narain
Human Rights Advisor, Equity & Inclusion Office (formal and informal resolution to human rights complaints for all of UBC)
roshni.narain@ubc.ca