Mistreatment and Unprofessional Behaviors Directed at Students and Trainees

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences are dedicated to providing students, postdocs, residents, faculty, staff members, and patients with an environment of respect, dignity, inclusion, trust, support, and protection of civil and professional discourse, free of mistreatment, abuse, or coercion, and without fear of retaliation.

Educators (defined broadly to include anyone in a teaching or mentoring role, including faculty, postdocs, residents, fellows, nurses, staff, and students) bear significant responsibility for creating and maintaining this environment. As role models and evaluators, educators must practice appropriate professional behavior toward, and in the presence of, students and trainees, who are in a particularly vulnerable position due to the formative and dependent nature of their status.

Mistreatment interferes with the learning environment, adversely impacts well-being and the trainee-mentor relationship, and has the potential to negatively impact patient care and research.

At the same time, exemplary behaviors that demonstrate integrity, empathy, compassion, respect, and advocacy help create a learning and working environment we can all be proud of.

Submit Feedback: If you want to report mistreatment, unprofessional, or exemplary behavior directed at students and trainees

Student/Trainee Learning Environment Committee

The Committee on the Student/Trainee Learning Environment includes the Dean for Graduate Medical Education, Dean for Medical Education, Dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Dean for Diversity Affairs, Chief Wellness Officer, Dean for Gender Equity in Science and Medicine, Title IX Coordinator, Director of the Ombuds Office, Chair of the Physician’s Wellness Committee, and The Mount Sinai Hospital’s Chief Medical Officer, plus representatives of Human Resources, students, postdoctoral fellows, and residents and clinical fellows.

This Committee meets quarterly to review all reports of exemplary behaviors, as well as alleged mistreatment and unprofessional behavior directed at students/trainees, and will handle or refer these reports as appropriate consistent with institutional policies. The Committee will share quarterly aggregated and de-identified reports with the Mount Sinai community.

Examples of Positive Behavior

Examples of positive behaviors include:

  • Demonstrating an openness to adapting practices and language that create an environment that is welcoming to all students and trainees
  • Conducting interactions in a manner that is free of bias and racism
  • Providing a clear description of expectations at the beginning of all educational and training experiences
  • Demonstrating respectful behavior towards patients, colleagues, other health professionals, students, and trainees
  • Demonstrating empathy and compassion toward others
  • Demonstrating advocacy on behalf of patients
  • Encouraging an atmosphere of openness in which all feel welcome to ask questions, ask for help, make suggestions, and respectfully disagree
  • Providing timely and specific feedback on observed behaviors in a constructive manner, appropriate to the level of experience/training, and in an appropriate setting
  • Using appropriate terminology and context when providing statistics with respect to race, gender, and other identifying characteristics

Examples of Mistreatment

While individuals might perceive unprofessional behaviors differently, examples of mistreatment include being:

  • Threatened with physical harm or physically harmed
  • Required to perform personal services
  • Subjected to offensive remarks related to gender, sexual orientation, national origin, race, color, religion, or any other category protected by law
  • Denied opportunities for training or rewards based upon membership in a protected group
  • Subjected to lower evaluations or grades solely because of membership in a protected group
  • Publicly embarrassed or humiliated
  • Subjected to unwanted sexual advances
  • Asked to exchange sexual favors for grades or other rewards
  • Subjected to the threat of revoking visa status for foreign nationals

Zero Tolerance Policy

ISMMS has a zero tolerance policy towards mistreatment of students and trainees. Zero tolerance means that all reported incidents are scrutinized and will result in an action plan that may include feedback, remediation, or disciplinary action. Although egregious or persistent mistreatment may require disciplinary action, we recognize in episodes of mistreatment an opportunity to develop, improve, and remediate unprofessional behaviors that detract from a learning and working environment we can all be proud of.