Be assured that issue will be dealt with professionally and privately. [UPDATED 06/04/2018]
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All training programs have a power hierarchy between students and mentors. Medical school and graduate school are no different. I rely on my mentors for the quality of my education as well as for the nature of my assessment. They determine what I learn and they decide how well I have learned it. These two factors will be major determinants of my future career options.
This environment offers an inherent problem. Mistreated students will be uncomfortable discussing their concerns with their mentors. After all, we know that any perception of ingratitude or insubordination may result in a poor evaluation and negatively influence on our future career choices.
IUSM is aware of this problem and regularly polls students to anonymously acquire feedback and gauge their concerns. The most recent results, released this December and available here, offer concerning findings relating to student mistreatment.
52.4% of students reported ‘no’ when asked: Do you know how to report student mistreatment? Further, only 69% of students ‘agreed’ that they would report their own mistreatment. This is extremely concerning given that >50% of IUSM students polled in 2015 AAMC Graduation Questionnaire reported experiencing a behaviour that qualifies as mistreatment.
These results are not unique to IUSM: they closely match national averages at other medical schools. What the results do highlight is the need for programs that support students who are the victims of mistreatment.
The Teacher Learner Advocacy Committee is an IUSM school-wide body that deals with student mistreatment and other breaches of professionalism. It is a committee with broad membership including physicians, research faculty, administrative staff, residents, fellows, and students. When a student brings forward an issue, a group of 3-5 TLAC members will meet with them to hear their concerns and determine how the committee can help. TLAC will then seek to mediate the conflict by reaching out to the parties that need to be aware of the issue such as the faculty member involved, other affected students, course coordinators, faculty advisors, and administrative staff in departments such as Medical Student Affairs and Diversity Affairs. TLAC will seek to mediate discussions between these groups in an environment that provides the student with assurances that their training, their evaluations, and their career prospects will not be negatively affected.
I’ve been a student representative on TLAC for 2 years. The cases I’ve observed have all been examined judiciously and promptly. Students have found the conflict resolution helpful. Most importantly, they are comforted by TLAC’s assurance of confidentiality when voicing their concerns.
New student representatives will be elected to TLAC at the end of this month. I strongly urge you to apply for a position on TLAC before the January 20th 2016 deadline.
Please read more about TLAC’s mission and scope here.