- The TLA is a mutual pledge between
teachers and students about their shared obligations in teaching, learning,
research and clinical care.
- The TLA is also a reminder that duty,
integrity and respect are values of fundamental importance to medical
What are some of the things it says that teachers should
- Treat students fairly, respectfully and
without bias related to age, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, spiritual or
political beliefs, disability or country of origin;
- Maintain high professional standards in
all interactions with patients, students, colleagues and staff;
- Practice insightful (Socratic)
questioning, which stimulates learning and self-discovery and avoid overly
aggressive questioning which may be perceived as hurtful, humiliating,
degrading or punitive.
The TLA lists additional responsibilities, which include
providing explicit learning expectations, timely and constructive feedback and
thoughtful and timely evaluations. Teachers are also expected to disclose to
students, during lectures, seminars and mentored research activities, the
existence of any financial ties or conflicts-of-interest that are related to
the material being taught.
Teachers should also be familiar with the processes and
resources of the Student Honor Council and the Student Professionalism
Committee. Faculty should utilize appropriate mechanisms to encourage students
who experience mistreatment or who witness unprofessional behavior to report
the facts immediately (for example, to the Office of Professionalism, a trusted
faculty or staff member, or the online professionalism reporting system) and to
treat all such reports as confidential.
What do students have to do?
Treat teachers and fellow students
fairly, respectfully and without bias related to age, race, ethnicity, gender,
sexual orientation, religion, spiritual or political beliefs, disability or
country of origin.
- Demonstrate professional behavior in
- Be active, enthusiastic, curious
learners who work to enhance a positive learning environment.
The TLA lists additional responsibilities for
students, including: recognizing personal limitations and seeking help when
needed; providing teachers and the SOM with constructive feedback; and
recognizing that not all learning stems from formal and structured activities.
Students are also expected to demonstrate a commitment to life-long learning,
uphold the honor code and be familiar with mechanisms to report exemplary
professionalism and professionalism lapses.
What else does the Teacher-Learner Agreement say?
- Students and teachers must avoid any
and all behaviors that conceivably could lead to the perception of a boundaries
violation such as:
- Romantic involvements;
- Business relationships, other than those that might emerge from joint
- Faculty or students accepting services or personal favors from each
other (for example, babysitting, house sitting, pet care or work in the
- Accepting substantial gifts;
- Special treatment of a student, including gifts, meals, entertainment or
social contacts, that differs substantially from the usual teacher-learner
relationship with other students;
- Students and teachers should avoid the
potential conflict of interest whereby a student’s healthcare provider is also
evaluating a student’s academic or clinical performance in a teaching role.
Does this mean I can’t have lunch with a medical student
or invite students to my house for dinner?
No, but you have to use good judgment to maintain
appropriate boundaries. There are no hard and fast rules, but here are some red
flags that may indicate possible boundary violations:
- Repeated social contacts with one
- Social contacts that are not related to
mentorship, teaching or learning;
- Social contacts that would not be
arranged with other students;
- Contacts that feature alcohol as a
- Contacts that are more for you than for
- Social contacts that are starting to
feel like dating.
Where can I find the Teacher-Learner Agreement?
The TLA is posted on the Faculty Professionalism website. Faculty members
must also acknowledge their understanding of the TLA annually, as one of the
final steps in the PRiSM performance review process. If you have questions or
concerns about the TLA, you may contact Wendy Madigosky, Maureen Garrity or Steven Lowenstein.