Professional behavior is expected of School of Medicine students throughout the medical school curriculum. Professional behavior includes, but is not limited to, responsibility to patients, to peers, to faculty members, to staff, and to oneself. It also includes responsibility for self-education and self-improvement, timeliness, attendance, and active participation in block activities. Professional behavior may be considered when grades are assigned by Block Directors in all basic science and clinical blocks. Students may be disciplined (including probation or dismissal) for unprofessional behavior, even if such unprofessional behavior did not affect the student’s grade. Expectations for professional behavior increase as a medical student moves into the clinical blocks and assumes responsibility for patient care.
The Medical Student Professionalism Committee was formed in 2002. Its purpose is to enhance and encourage medical student professional behavior, to review—in strict confidence—instances of substandard medical student professional behavior and to offer remediation for this behavior. Committee membership includes basic science faculty, clinical faculty, faculty from the Center for Bioethics and Humanities, faculty from other UCD health care professional programs or schools, and beginning in 2008, student representatives (Phases I, II, III & IV).
The Professionalism Committee process encourages timely and regular feedback to students on their professional behavior. Faculty, staff or peers (through a faculty member) may initiate the professionalism feedback process which includes direct communication with the student about their unprofessional behavior, documentation through the Professionalism Feedback Form and an opportunity for students to respond with their comments in writing. The form is submitted to the Chair of the Professionalism Committee for review and tracking of the behavior. If unprofessional behavior is repetitive or egregious, the student’s behavior is considered by the full Professionalism Committee and a remediation plan is established for the student. Material related to the Professionalism Committee process is confidential, kept separate from the students’ academic file and destroyed at graduation.
If there is a pattern of recidivism or the student fails to complete the remediation plan, the matter is referred to the Promotions Committee for official action. In this case, the Student Promotions Committee will consider the individual situation, giving the student an opportunity to present their case. The Student Promotions committee may act to place a student on probation, with a required remediation for unprofessional behavior, even if such unprofessional behavior did not affect the student’s grade.
The Student Professionalism Committee works in concert with the Honor Council to ensure that a given incident will be considered by the correct committee.