The University of Texas Medical School at Houston
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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.

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, or religious beliefs. 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.

Because this policy and document pertains to students as learners, references to "teachers" or "faculty" also include residents and fellows in their teaching and supervisory role with regard to students.

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
• Sending students on inappropriate errands
• Loss of personal civility: 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

Students enrolled in the Medical School (or Medical School portion of the M.D./Ph.D. program) should report abuse or mistreatment to the Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs. The Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs will meet with the student to discuss the incident or behavior and the options for action.

UTHSC-Houston policies and procedures concerning misconduct by faculty and staff, including allegations of discrimination (including harassment) and retaliation are outlined in the Handbook of Operating Procedures (HOOP). The Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs will advise and assist the student in following applicable procedures of the institution.

In the rare instance when there is no existing procedure applicable to the specific situation, the Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs, in consultation with the student, will determine the most appropriate plan of action. This may involve an inivestigation by the Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs to establish the facts while respecting the rights and confidentiality of the involved parties.

Depending on the nature or scope of the reported mistreatment, the Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs has the authority to appoint an ad hoc Committee on Student Treatment consisting of three faculty members, one of whom will be appointed to chair the committee. An attorney from the UTHSC-H Office of Legal Affairs will serve as an ex officio member of the Committee. The purpose of the ad hoc Committee will be to investigate the complaint, establish facts respecting the rights of the involved parties, and recommend a course of action to the Associate Dean for Admissioins and Student Affairs.

It will be made clear from the fact-finding or investigation stage forward and through final disposition of the report that retaliatory behavior or reprisals of any kind will not be tolerated.

The Committee on Student Treatment will be required to report its findings in writing to the Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs within 30 days of its appointment.

If, following determination of the facts (and consideration of the recommendation of the ad hoc Committee on Student Treatment, if one was appointed), the Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs may take one or more of the following actions in consultation with the Office of Legal Affairs:

• Arrange mediation between the parties
• Report findings and recommendations to the Dean
• Report findings and recommendations to the appropriate department chair
• Report findings and recommendations to the faculty member in charge of the course, clerkship, or elective in which the alleged mistreatment took place
• In the event the perpetrator is a resident, report findings and recommendations to the residency program director and Senior Associate Dean for Educational Programs

These actions may be in addition to or superseded by actions taken in accordance with specific UTHSC-H policy(ies).

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 will be used.

The Policy will be added to the Medical School website on the main student, faculty, and house staff web pages.

A paper copy of the Policy will be provided to current house staff and fellows and given to new house staff during staff orientation.

A paper copy of the Policy will be given to current students and thereafter to entering students at orientation. The policy will be reviewed and discussed at Orientation and in the fall semester meetings of the Master Advisory groups.

A paper copy of the Policy will be provided to faculty and distributed at faculty orientations. Department Chairs and Directors will be responsible for ensuring that the Policy is discussed at departmental/division meetings.

Each course director, clerkship director and/or Program Director will be responsible for providing a paper or electronic copy of the Policy to their respective teaching faculty and to all students at the start of each course, clerkship or rotation.