1.6 Standards of Conduct and Professional Behavior Policy

Policy Statement
Students are expected to be on their honor to maintain the highest standards of personal and professional conduct in all aspects of their medical school training and within the broader community. Upholding the highest standards of professional and personal behavior, personal integrity, academic integrity, respect for each other as individuals, and accountability for one’s own conduct includes acquiring behavioral patterns and attitudes consistent with the Honor Code signed at the time of application and confirmed at matriculation and the physician’s oath taken at the time of graduation. Breaches of the Honor Code and/or UW Medicine’s Policy on Professional Conduct are serious violations of the School’s standards of conduct.

Evaluations of the performance of students in the medical education program’s curriculum include an assessment of whether the student is making satisfactory progress in developing appropriate professional behavior for a physician-in-training. If a student’s conduct is deemed to be unacceptable and the student has not sufficiently learned how to modify their behavior, or if the behavior is so egregious and deemed to disqualify a student from being a physician-in-training, the student will not be recommended for promotion within or graduation from the MD program, in accordance with the Student Progress Committee’s guidelines.

The Student Progress Committee may recommend the dismissal from the University of Washington School of Medicine of a student whose professional behavior or conduct is unacceptable or below the expected level. No student with un-remediated, unacceptable professional behavior will receive the Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Washington School of Medicine.

Requirements and Guidelines
The list below are broad categories of misconduct as well as standards for personal and professional behaviors, although the list is not intended to be exhaustive. The School’s standards of student conduct below are also reflective of the Student Conduct Code for the University of Washington. Upholding these standards of student conduct is expected of all students who are recommended for promotion and graduation and failure to do so can result in sanctions and/or dismissal. Misconduct Infractions related to personal and professional behavior within the medical school program, the School of Medicine’s Student Progress Committee’s guidelines will be followed. Investigation of infractions outside of the medical school program are typically conducted by the University’s Community Standards and Student Conduct office (CSSC) which provides a report to the Student Progress Committee and may, independent of the Committee, impose a sanction on the student. The student’s right to appeal a CSSC sanction falls under the University’s Student Conduct Code guidelines.

Inappropriate Interaction with Patients

  • Taking action regarding patient care outside of the care team hierarchy
  • Arguing about diagnosis or treatment in front of patient
  • Describing patient in inappropriate terms
  • Not respecting personal or professional boundaries with patients
  • Inappropriate personal relationship with patient or member of patient’s family

Inappropriate Behavior in Clinical Setting

  • Taking patient’s records from the hospital
  • Inappropriate access to patient’s electronic record
  • Talking about patient in public setting
  • Acting beyond level of responsibility without direction from the patient care team
  • Fabricating clinical data, such as when asked about patient status or in recording information on the patient
  • Inappropriate hygiene
  • Ignoring proper universal precautions

Standards of Dress and Appearance in Clinical Settings
Dress and appearance standards are designed to ensure that students present a professional appearance consistent with what is expected in a clinical setting. How one looks and acts directly affects how the care provided is perceived by patients, faculty, staff, and other students.

  • Clothing: Clothing should be neat and clean and appropriate for the clinical setting. Items that are not appropriate in the patient care setting include: blue jeans, tank tops, sleeveless shirts, low cut necklines, shorts; overalls; sweats; exposed backs or midriffs or any revealing clothing that exposes undergarments; skirts shorter than 2-3” above the knee.
  • Shoes: Closed-toe shoes must be worn in all patient care areas, per OSHA regulations. Flip-flops, slippers, or open-toed shoes/sandals are not allowed in patient-care settings.
  • Hair: Hair must be neatly groomed and clean. Long hair must neither obstruct vision nor interfere in any way with the student’s performance. A hair restraint, i.e., hair net, may be required in certain settings. Also, hair color and style must be appropriate for the clinical work environment.
  • Facial hair: Facial hair must be neatly groomed, clean, and must not interfere in any way with the student’s performance. For safety and infection control reasons, students working in some areas of the hospital, such as operating rooms, may not be permitted to wear beards, or may be required to wear beard guards.
  • Jewelry: Jewelry worn by students must be of reasonable shape and size, appropriate to the work setting, and may not interfere with patient care or safety. Earrings and small nose studs are the only acceptable forms of visible pierced jewelry. Rings must be small enough to allow for the use of gloves, with no risk of tearing the gloves.
  • Tattoos: If a tattoo could be interpreted as being obscene, indecent, extremist, racist, or sexist, it should be covered.

Inappropriate Interaction with Student Peers, Staff, Faculty and Administration

  • Harassment or abusive behavior in person or electronically
  • Assault
  • Deliberate degradation or disruption of the learning environment
  • Intentional misrepresentation of self or qualifications
  • Argumentative behavior beyond what is reasonable for the issue or setting
  • Inappropriate, inadequate, or untimely response to queries from administrators, faculty or staff

Inappropriate Behavior Outside of Student Training
Students are expected to abide by University, local, state, and federal regulations and laws. Infractions of these standards may result in a sanction being imposed by the Student Progress Committee apart from whether there is any action that may be taken in civil or criminal court.

  • University Student Conduct Code infractions
  • Inappropriate interaction with individual(s) within the UW, UWSOM or community
  • Conviction of a misdemeanor or felony
  • Harassment or abusive behavior
  • Crimes against property

Non-Compliance with Essential Requirements

  • Immunizations; TB Screening
  • Criminal Background Check
  • HIPAA; UW Data Stewardship (PCISA form)
  • Universal Precautions Training
  • Other compliance requirements

Inappropriate Financial Behaviors

  • Requesting or accepting financial aid based on misrepresentative or false documentation
  • Not meeting agreed obligations related to research fellowship or other contracts with stipend


  • Sharing questions on current or past exams with others
  • Inappropriate collaboration on course assignments. In many courses, students will be encouraged to work together on questions covering broad topics or on various projects. It is expected, however, that each student will write their own individual responses based on the group’s effort. It is inappropriate and unacceptable to write one response as a group and subsequently copy and submit that one response as each individual student’s unique work.

Inappropriate Use of Multiple Purpose Papers for Honors
For courses that require a paper for Honors, each paper must be unique. It is not acceptable to hand in the same paper for two or more clerkships, and it is inappropriate to hand in a paper completed for another purpose (such as undergraduate or graduate coursework, III, MSRTP, etc.) to fulfill a course’s paper requirement or to form the basis of a presentation that is a requirement for a clerkship.

Misrepresentation in Applications and Personal Statements
The student should be the sole author of any personal statement prepared for medical school, residency applicants, or other purposes for which students are reflecting themselves to others. It is a breach of academic integrity for students to misrepresent their academic/professional qualifications and achievements in personal statements and/or curriculum vitae.

Inappropriate Use of Curriculum Resources
The University of Washington School of Medicine faculty and Curriculum Office put a tremendous amount of effort into gathering and creating learning resources for students’ use during medical school. These resources include written syllabus content, PowerPoint slides, websites, articles, videos, etc. These materials are shared with UWSOM students electronically for personal use as part of the School’s medical education program. They are not intended to be shared outside of the WWAMI community. Redistribution or reposting of curriculum material created by others without their permission is a violation of U.S. copyright law. Students found to be engaging in this type of redistribution activity will be referred to the Associate Dean for Student Affairs.

Students must follow the appropriate guidelines for acknowledging the use of the work of others in all work and scholarly research projects. There are a number of manuals on how to write research papers, and students should identify the appropriate manual for the kind of project being completed. Failure to appropriately attribute and document the work of others may result in referral to the associate dean for student affairs and/or disciplinary action.  The definition of plagiarism used by the School of Medicine is from “Definition of Plagiarism” by Harold C. Martin, Richard M. Ohmann, and James H. Wheatly, as published in Wesleyan University’s Blue Book.

Plagiarism can take many forms:  The spectrum is a wide one. At one end, there is a word-for-word copying of another’s writing without enclosing the copied passage in quotation marks and identifying it in a footnote, both of which are necessary. It hardly seems possible that anyone of college age or more could do that without clear intent to deceive. At the other end, there is the almost casual slipping in of a particularly apt term, which one has come across in reading and which so admirably expresses one’s opinion that one is tempted to make it personal property. Between these poles, there are degrees and degrees, but they may be roughly placed in two groups. Close to outright and blatant deceit – but more the result, perhaps, of laziness than of bad intent – is the patching together of random jottings made in the course of reading, generally without careful identification of their source, and then woven into the text, so that the result is a mosaic of other people’s ideas and words, the writer’s sole contribution being the cement to hold the pieces together. Indicative of more effort and, for that reason, somewhat closer to honesty, though still dishonest, is the paraphrase, an abbreviated (and often skillfully prepared) restatement of someone else’s analysis or conclusions without acknowledgment that another person’s text has been the basis for the recapitulation.


Effective: Current and Under Review
Last updated: August 11, 2020
Policy Contact: UW School of Medicine, Student Affairs Office, adminSA@uw.edu; Education Quality Improvement Office, eqi@uw.edu