We understand that a learner making the decision to submit a mistreatment report requires a degree of courage, given that there may be concerns about negative repercussions for filing the report. We have heard from learners that there are some concerns about retaliation if they are identified. It is important to know that the Penn State College of Medicine has a policy prohibiting retaliation of any kind, with a range of consequences that may include termination. It is also important to know that the Office for a Respectful Learning Environment (ORLE) goes to great lengths to prevent a learner from being identified.
We want all learners to feel free to submit a mistreatment report if the need arises. One of the commitments of ORLE to learners is that something is done with every report, if there is enough information to act. Below are some examples of reports that lack enough information to act, followed by reports that are actionable.
Reports Lacking Sufficient Information to Act
“The residents are jerks.”
“A student in my PBL group was rude to me.”
“A nurse treated me disrespectfully.”
“Members of my group are not very friendly.”
“My PI is impossible to work with.”
The reports listed above are composites of ones that have been submitted to our office. We recognize that students may be reluctant to share specific details because they feel it will make them easier to be identified. This is a legitimate concern and we respect the choices each student makes in what to submit. That said, the reports listed above resulted in no action because of the lack of key information such as the name of the person who acted inappropriately, the specific behaviors that were experienced as mistreatment, the day when the event occurred, the location of the event, and relevant contextual information (i.e. during rounds, in a patient’s room, in front of other staff).
Reports Containing Information that is Actionable
“Dr A. yelled at a resident during a procedure on Tuesday. The resident tried to apologize, but Dr. A. just kept yelling at him. It was very uncomfortable for everyone in the room.”
“On 11/2/20 nurse W mocked me when I was scrubbing in for a surgery. He told me I would never be a surgeon because I didn’t even know how to wash my hands. It would have been more helpful if he used the time to teach me better technique.”
“This past Friday my PI, Dr X, humiliated me in a lab meeting by telling me my science was at the level of a high school student- and then he laughed at me. He never explained what I needed to do to improve- just that my work was terrible.”
By including the name of the person who acted inappropriately, along with information on what happened, and when and where the incident occurred, we are able to conduct an investigation and offer education to those involved to prevent future incidents. We want to learn about these situations as detailed and quickly as possible to take the necessary steps to address them in a timely manner.
In an effort to keep you apprised on the reports received and actions taken, Quarterly Learning Environment reports can be found on this website.
In addition, the policy on the Culture of Respect in Education, which includes examples of mistreatment and a statement about no tolerance for retaliation, can be found at the the link below.