1.4 Student Mistreatment Policy

Student Mistreatment Policy Statement
The University of Washington School of Medicine (UWSOM) is committed to a safe and supportive learning environment that reflects the institution’s values: excellence, respect, integrity, compassion, altruism, and accountability in all endeavors. Diversity of ideas, perspectives and experiences are integral to our mission. All individuals in our UWSOM community are responsible for creating a welcoming and respectful environment where every person is valued and honored. Mistreatment of students by the faculty, staff and peers at UWSOM is prohibited. This mistreatment includes incidents of humiliation; harassment or discrimination based on race, color, creed, religion, national origin, citizenship, sex, pregnancy, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, genetic information, disability, veteran status, socioeconomic status, political beliefs or affiliations, and geographic region; and the use of grading or other forms of assessment in a punitive manner. Expectations of teachers and learners are described more fully in the Policy on Professional Conduct.

Requirements, Procedures and Guidelines
Individuals and offices at the School of Medicine and University of Washington have been identified to assist any member of the educational community to address incidents of mistreatment. The following are ways to manage and report mistreatment.

Reporting Mistreatment or a Serious Concern
First and foremost, if a student’s safety or another individual’s safety is at risk (physical or sexual assault, impaired physician, or other egregious situation), first call 9-1-1, visit the emergency room, or take other actions appropriate to the situation. Then, once safe, contact Dr. Gabe Sarah, Associate Dean for Student Affairs at gesarah@uw.edu.

  • Learning Environment Feedback Tool
    • Students who wish to report mistreatment or a serious concern that doesn’t require immediate response are encouraged to use the Learning Environment Feedback Tool. In the tool, students can provide a description of their concerns and indicate their follow-up preference and how they would like their feedback shared. The Learning Environment Feedback Tool provides the option of anonymous reporting and students may indicate how they want their identity and the identity of anyone else involved in the situation to be shared.
  • Director of the Learning Environment
    • The Director of the Learning Environment is the point person for any student who has a concern about the learning environment or mistreatment experienced or witnessed. Melinda Frank is the Director of the Learning Environment. She can be reached by email at mmfrank@uw.edu or by phone at 206.616.1816. Students may also make an appointment to meet with Melinda in person, by phone, or via Zoom. Her office is located in the T-wing suite. All UWSOM students, regardless of year in the curriculum and regardless of physical location, may contact Melinda at any time.
  • Deans
    • Students may report mistreatment to Dr. Gabe Sarah, Associate Dean for Student Affairs at gesarah@uw.edu. Students may also report mistreatment to any other dean at UWSOM, including but not limited to Student Affairs, Foundations or Clinical deans.
  • Block and Clerkship Evaluation Forms
    • Students who have concerns about mistreatment during a block or clerkship may also report on the End of Block/Clerkship Evaluation Form, completed at the end of each block/clerkship.
  • Other Avenues to Report Mistreatment

What Happens to Reports of Mistreatment
The Director of the Learning Environment receives submissions related to reports of student mistreatment and handles each submission with the utmost confidentiality, ensuring that that students’ identity is safeguarded through the response process. Each student has the opportunity to discuss their concern with the Director of the Learning Environment further if desired. The concern is then reviewed with the Incident Response Oversight Subcommittee, a group of deans from Curriculum and Student Affairs. A determination is made about the severity of the concern, which determines appropriate follow up with the clerkship and faculty. Interventions could include feedback about the behavior, remediation, or removal from clinical teaching. The clerkship director, faculty, other UW affiliated individuals will not be contacted until the student’s grade has been finalized, with the exception of when there are concerns that the student or other individuals are in imminent danger. If there is a threat of imminent danger, the relevant individuals will be contacted before proceeding.

Direct Feedback by Physicians-in-Training
The School’s administration and the Medical Student Association (MSA) recommend the following options for handling incidents of unacceptable behavior or conduct and reporting these incidents:

In managing issues in which the professional behavior or conduct of students, faculty or staff do not meet the expected standard, if the student is comfortable with his/her skills in providing direct feedback, the student should approach the individual and open a discussion about what has been observed and how this behavior might be perceived.  If the problem is not resolved at the individual level or the student is not comfortable directly discussing the issue directly, then the issue may need to be managed at a more formal level.

Protections Against Retaliation
University of Washington students are always protected under UW Executive Order No. 31, regardless of where they might be geographically in the five-state WWAMI region.


Effective: Current and Under Review
Last updated: May 1, 2023
Policy Contact: UW School of Medicine, Student Affairs Office, adminSA@uw.edu, Education Quality Improvement Office, eqi@uw.edu