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Policy for Prevention of Student Mistreatment
  1. Standard of Conduct

    The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA has established and maintains an environment in which community members are enabled and encouraged to excel. All members of this diverse community are expected to maintain a positive learning environment. This is an environment in which teachers and students treat each other with respect, an environment free of harassment, intimidation, exploitation, and abuse, and one in which feedback regarding performance can be shared openly without concern for ridicule or reprisal.

  2. Purpose of Policy

    The purpose of this policy is to define inappropriate conduct in the teacher-student relationship and to provide a mechanism and procedures to allow medical or graduate students to report violations without fear of retaliation. In addition, the policy aims to ensure that educational programs aimed at preventing student mistreatment are provided to the entire community on a regular basis. For this purpose the “community” is defined as all of the sites where UCLA medical and graduate students receive training.

  3. Definitions/Examples

    Mistreatment of students can occur in a variety of forms and may seriously impair learning. Types of abuse include verbal, power, ethnic, physical, and sexual harassment. Examples of mistreatment of students include, but are not limited to repeated instances or single egregious instances of:--Yelling or shouting at a student in public or private

    • Criticism or other actions that reasonably can be interpreted as demeaning or humiliating
    • Assigning duties as punishment rather than education
    • Unwarranted exclusion from reasonable learning opportunities
    • Threats to fail, give lower grades, or give a poor evaluation for inappropriate reasons
    • Asking students to carry out personal chores
    • Unwelcome repeated sexual comments, jokes, innuendos, or taunting remarks about one’s body, attire, age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or marital status
    • Comments about stereotypical behavior or ethnic jokes
    • Intentional physical contact such as pushing, shoving, slapping, hitting, tripping, throwing objects at, or aggressive violation of personal space
  4. Ongoing Education to Promote a Positive Learning Environment and Discourage Mistreatment and Abuse

    The David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA will provide ongoing education to its community on promotion 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 persons who believe that they have been mistreated that avenues for seeking redress are available. Third, it alerts potential perpetrators of mistreatment to the school’s policy on and process of responding to allegations of mistreatment. The materials and methods for providing this education will be the responsibility of the Gender and Power Abuse Committee. This policy will be included in the student and resident handbooks and posted on the medical school website; the topic will be addressed at orientations at matriculation and at the beginning of the third year. The policy will be reviewed by the Faculty Executive Committee on a regular basis and modified as necessary.

    All institutions that instruct David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA trainees must have an educational program. Educational programs include:

    Residents—The policy will be included in the resident handbook. The topic will be addressed at resident physician orientation sessions. Clinical department chairs will be asked to ensure that all fellows and residents complete a mandatory web-based training course on identification and prevention of mistreatment and abuse during the first year of their training.

    Faculty—A letter will be sent each year from the Dean to all faculty (including voluntary faculty) reminding them of the school’s statement on supporting an abuse-free environment, of the trainee mistreatment policy, and of the existence of resources for resolution. The Dean will direct SOM department chairs and the assistant deans at affiliated institutions to convey the information to all faculty, housestaff, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows within their departments. The topic will be discussed periodically at department chairs meetings.

    Nursing and Other Clinical/Support Staff—A letter will be sent each year from the Dean to the Chief Executive Officer at affiliated institutions to explain the policy and to request its distribution to all staff interacting with medical school trainees. Resources will be available for presentations on the topic to various groups at the training sites.

    In addition to the above, all faculty and staff will be encouraged to attend meetings that include training regarding the definition of harassment and abuse, as well as University procedures for dealing with harassment and abuse, which will be held on a regular basis.

    Finally, educational materials including a website, posters, brochures, and other documents that can easily be referred to by faculty, staff and trainees will be disseminated throughout the medical school.

  5. Establishment of a Student Mistreatment Committee

    The Executive Associate Dean will appoint a Student Mistreatment Committee (SMC). The Committee members will include:

    • 3 clinical or basic science faculty members
    • 1 third-year medical student
    • 1 fourth-year medical student
    • 1 nurse
    • 1 chief resident
    • 1 graduate student (3rd year or beyond)
    • 1 member of the Gender and Power Abuse Committee

    One of the faculty members will be asked to serve as chair of the Committee. In making appointments to the Committee, the Executive Associate Dean will be guided by considerations of continuity, experience, sensitivity to the concerns of trainees and faculty, and gender, racial, cultural and economic diversity of the community. The Committee will meet once every two months, or more frequently if needed, in order for its members to understand the issues and to establish rapport and a working relationship with each other.

    The Committee will be advisory to the Executive Associate Dean in questions regarding conduct of trainees, faculty, and staff. The recommendations and findings of the Committee will be reviewed by the Executive Associate Dean, who will have responsibility and authority to determine if the basis exists for referral to a Department Chair or Hospital Director, Associate Dean, Human Resources, or to a committee of the Academic Senate for further review.

  6. Procedure
    1. Informal Resolution
      • Direct discussion with the alleged offender
      • Conversation with chief resident, attending physician, course coordinator
      • Discussion with member of Gender and Power Abuse Committee
      • Resolution/mediation with assistance of Ombudsperson

      Information on resources available to help trainees deal with abuse or mistreatment will be featured in a central, easily accessible location on the School of Medicine website. Trainees will be encouraged to utilize any of the informal mechanisms listed above whenever possible.

      All complaints that relate to the area of sexual harassment will be referred to Sexual Harassment Information Center Counselors or Complaint Resolution Officers on campus.

    2. Procedures for Complaints of Abuse

      When a trainee has exhausted the possibility of resolving a situation of abuse or mistreatment using informal mechanisms, he/she will contact the chair of the SMC, and give a written description of the circumstances leading to the complaint. The complainant must be willing to be identified to the person against whom the complaint is directed.

      The SMC chair will convene an investigatory subcommittee consisting of one faculty member, the chief resident or nurse representative (as appropriate), and one student. The academic administrator from affiliated institutions will be included as appropriate. Subcommittee selection will be matched to the specifics of the case. For example, if a third-year student is filing the complaint, a fourth-year student will be appointed to the subcommittee. If the case involves a resident, a resident will serve on the subcommittee rather than a nurse. The SMC chair as necessary may designate alternate representatives to a subcommittee who are not members of the SMC.

      1. The subcommittee will convene within 10 working days after the chair receives the complaint. Any subcommittee member with a conflict of interest will be required to withdraw from consideration of the complaint and will be replaced by another member.
      2. The subcommittee will conduct an investigation by interviewing the complainant, informing the accused about the substance of the complaint, interviewing the accused, and interviewing any other persons who might have insight into the situation, such as witnesses. Because the SMC is advisory to the Executive Associate Dean and has no status as a disciplinary committee within the University, legal counsel will not be permitted to appear before the Committee or a designated subcommittee, and the accused or any witnesses have the right to refuse to appear without prejudice against their case.
      3. As part of its investigation, the subcommittee will evaluate all available materials and then report conclusions regarding the facts of the situation to the SMC within 15 working days of receiving the complaint. The SMC will review the report and determine by majority vote that:
        1. there is no significant basis to conclude that mistreatment or abuse did occur;
        2. find that mistreatment or abuse probably did occur.

        The SMC will forward the findings to the Executive Associate Dean.

      4. The Executive Associate Dean will review the Committee’s findings and make a decision on corrective action to take. He/she may meet with both the complainant and the accused prior to rendering a decision. The Executive Associate Dean will inform the parties of the decision within 10 working days after receiving the recommendations of the SMC. The Executive Associate Dean will work with the appropriate department chair, section head, dean, or CEO to ensure that corrective action is taken. In the case of faculty, this corrective action may include referral of the matter to the appropriate Academic Senate committee for formal investigation and remediation. If the accused is a staff member, Human Resources will be consulted regarding the appropriate procedures to be followed. If the accused is from an affiliated institution, the academic administrator at that institution will be informed and involved as appropriate in the investigative process and in any corrective action to be taken.
      5. The Executive Associate Dean will inform the subcommittee of the final disposition of these complaints.
      6. None of the procedures detailed above are intended to deprive the complainant or the accused of his or her rights to seek remedies through general University procedures.
    3. Appeals

      In cases where either the complainant or the accused is dissatisfied with the Executive Associate Dean's decision, that person must submit his or her appeal in writing to the Dean within 10 working days of the report. The Dean has 10 working days from receipt of the appeal to respond. If the complainant is dissatisfied with the results of the appeal, he or she then may also seek relief through general University processes.

  7. Anonymity/Confidentiality

    Proceedings will be kept in confidence by the SMC, which will report findings only to the Executive Associate Dean. All individuals involved in the process should know and understand the need for confidentiality. Written documents will be forwarded to the Executive Associate Dean only when the subcommittee finds that mistreatment did occur or when the subcommittee is unable to reach a consensus. In all other cases, written material will be kept in confidential files maintained by the chair of the Committee.

    At the end of the academic year, the Committee will submit an annual report to the FEC, the Executive Associate Dean, and the Gender and Power Abuse Committee summarizing the nature of cases and issues considered during the year.

  8. Retaliation

    Retaliation against those reporting mistreatment is regarded as a form of mistreatment and will not be tolerated. Accusations that retaliation has occurred will be handled in the same manner as accusations concerning other forms of mistreatment.

  9. Malicious Accusations

    A complainant or witness found to have been dishonest or malicious in making the allegations or at any point during the investigation may be subject to disciplinary action.

  10. Campus Resources

    The following campus resources may be helpful sources of information or support in dealing with mistreatment or abuse issues:

    Student Affairs Office
    Gender and Power Abuse Committee
    Ombuds Office
    Mental Health Services for Physicians in Training Program
    Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Campus Resource Center
    Center for Women and Men
    Sexual Harassment Information Centers
    Student Legal Services
    Student Psychological Services
    Office of Students with Disabilities
    Office of Spiritual Care


Drafted 3/6/01
Last revised 6/12/04
Approved FEC 7/28/04