Policy on Student Learning Environment
Purpose of the Policy
Members of the UCDMC community are dedicated to a positive learning environment. Accordingly, this policy serves several purposes. First, this policy defines a positive learning environment and acknowledges institutional accountability. Second, this policy defines mistreatment and provides a mechanism to allow individuals to report violations without fear of retaliation. Third, this policy acknowledges faculty, staff and student responsibility for promoting a positive learning environment and preventing student mistreatment through educational programs.
Standard of Conduct
The University of California, Davis, Medical center (UCDMC) maintains an environment in which community members are supported and encouraged to excel. All members of this diverse community (faculty, nurses and other clinicians, fellows, residents, professional partners, staff and students) are expected to maintain a positive and respectful learning environment free of harassment, intimidation, belittlement, humiliation or abuse.
Definitions & Examples
- The UC Davis Principles of Community are publicized broadly and set forth ideals and expectations for campus interactions. Cornerstones of these principles of a positive learning environment are dignity, justice, civility, courtesy, sensitivity and respect.
- The Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) states, “Mistreatment, either intentional or unintentional, occurs when behavior shows disrespect for the dignity of others and unreasonably interferes with the learning process.”
- Examples of aspects that nurture a positive learning environment include:
- Respect for individuals and their views are evident despite sincere differences in beliefs or viewpoints.
- Recognition of differences in culture, ethnicity, background or sexual orientation, when appropriate, enhances the learning environment.
- Positions in the learning hierarchy are recognized and respected but are not unfairly exploited.
- Individuals are made to feel welcome in the learning environment.
- The intent of all interactions is clearly to promote and advance the knowledge of the learning individual.
- Physical contact and verbal interactions reinforce all of the above in the view of all parties involved.
- Examples of actions that could be characterized as mistreatment if they result in interference with the learning process include:
- Situations of physical abuse or violence.
- Threats to fail, give lower grades, or submit a poor evaluation based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, or refusal to grant personal favors.
- Subjection to offensive remarks related to gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, etc.
- Unwarranted exclusion from reasonable learning opportunities.
- Requests of students to carry out personal chores.
- Criticism or other actions that can reasonably be interpreted as demeaning or humiliating.
- Student on student mistreatment
Ongoing Education and Review to Promote a Positive Learning Environment
- UCDMC provides ongoing education to its community on the importance of a positive learning environment respectful of all individuals. Such education serves several purposes. First, it promotes attitudes of mutual respect and collegiality. Second, it informs students who believe they have been mistreated of the avenues available for redress. Third, it alerts all stakeholders to the process for responding to allegations of mistreatment.
- The positive learning environment policy is discussed at all student, resident, staff and faculty orientations. It is also included in appropriate handbooks and posted on pertinent websites. The Vice Dean for Medical Education partners with all department chairs to discuss the topic periodically with faculty and staff at department meetings and with medical center unit leaders in training sessions. The Vice Dean for Medical Education will also partner with the Designated Institutional Official (DIO) and residency training directors to ensure that the learning environment and student mistreatment are appropriately addressed in the residency curriculum.
- The Vice Dean for Medical Education will oversee student evaluations of faculty and residents at the end of each clerkship. A portion of the evaluation will ask students about the learning environment as well as any concerns regarding mistreatment. The responses from the evaluation will be shared appropriately and in a timely fashion so as to acknowledge examples of professional excellence and to initiate dialogue regarding areas or individuals in need of improvement.
Procedures for Reporting/Investigating Mistreatment
The Associate Dean of Students is the academic administrator responsible for the oversight of a professional and respectful learning environment.
- Informal Resolution
- Students are encouraged to discuss concerns directly with any individual felt to have demonstrated mistreatment. The conversation should take place at a time and place appropriate for and conducive to a candid and respectful conversation.
- Students may also informally bring concerns about mistreatment to the Associate Dean of Students for further discussion, guidance and possible resolution.
- Formal Resolution
If a concern related to mistreatment has not been resolved, students may file a written complaint with the Associate Dean of Students describing the alleged mistreatment. Upon receiving an allegation of mistreatment, the Associate Dean for Students will conduct an investigation by interviewing the complainant, the accused, and any other parties associated with the circumstances described in the signed complaint. The Associate Dean for Students will summarize findings within 30 days of receipt of the complaint. If applicable, the Associate Dean for Students will initiate the corrective action process by forwarding findings to the appropriate Administrator.
- Corrective action in the case of mistreatment by faculty will be determined by the department chair in consultation with the Vice Dean.
- Corrective action in the case of mistreatment by patient care staff will be determined by the Chief Nursing Officer in consultation with Human Resources.
- Corrective action in the case of mistreatment by a resident will be determined by the program director in consultation with the DIO.
- Corrective action in the case of mistreatment by non-patient care staff will be determined by the immediate supervisor in consultation with Human Resources.
- Corrective action in the case of student on student mistreatment will be determined by the Associate Dean of Students.
In cases where either the complainant or the accused is dissatisfied with the decision of the Associate Dean of Students, that person may submit an appeal in writing to the Vice Chancellor for Human Health Sciences for further review and resolution within 10 days of receiving the decision. The decision of the Associate Vice Chancellor is final.
Threats, other forms of intimidation, and retaliation against a student for bringing a complaint of mistreatment or for assisting another in bringing a complaint are prohibited. Reporting mistreatment has no impact on Student’s Performance Evaluation and retaliation against those reporting mistreatment or participating in an investigation of mistreatment is regarded as a form of mistreatment. Complaints of retaliation will be handled in accordance with the complaint resolution procedures in this policy or, if applicable, may be forwarded to the appropriate University administrator for handling.
A complainant or witness found to have been dishonest or malicious in making allegations at any point during the investigation may be subject to disciplinary action.
Policy Reviewed By:
Margaret Rea, PhD
Heather Young, RN
Toby Marsh, RN
Amy Doroy, RN
Mark Servis, MD*
Sharad Jain, MD
Susan Guralnick, MD
Medical Staff Executive Committee