Non-Academic Conduct Policy

School of Medicine Non-academic Conduct Policy

Policy:

All medical students are expected to comply with regulations and policies regarding professional conduct and behavior established by the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the School of Medicine (SOM). Students are expected to conduct themselves in accordance with professional standards at all times, including, but not limited to, those described in the Medical Student Code of Professional Conduct and Best Practices, SOM Essential Capacities/Technical Standards, and Directions, the UAB Student Handbook.

General Procedure:

1. Disclaimer. Actions taken by the School of Medicine may be in addition to those taken by the university or by a clinical site and are dependent upon the nature of the behavior or conduct. The following constitutes only general guidelines for determining appropriate action in response to conduct and behavioral concerns.

2. Reporting Behavioral Concerns. Concerns about medical student behavior should be directed to the Associate Dean for Students using any of the reporting mechanisms described below. Reports are reviewed in the Department of Medical Education and data is shared with SOM and UAB Health System leadership regularly.

A. Early Alert and Response System (EARS): Students, faculty, staff, and external sources are strongly encouraged to report non-academic conduct or behavioral concerns by phone, email, or verbal communication directly to the Associate Dean for Students.

B. Report It: This confidential web-based reporting system is displayed on multiple SOM and UAB Health System websites and is available to anyone with a Blazer ID; a similar web-based reporting system exists for residents and staff on the Tuscaloosa campus who are not affiliated with UAB.

C. Other Reporting Mechanisms: The UAB Health System Trend Tracker system and the UAB Ethics Hotline anonymous reporting system may also be used to report medical student conduct and behavioral concerns.

3. Care Team. The Associate Dean for Students and Medical Student Services (MSS) Directors function as Care Team members. Team members communicate closely with faculty and staff so that concerns about medical student conduct can be appropriately documented. The Care Team monitors student progress toward the development of high professional standards.

4. Initial Assessment and Actions. When behavior(s) or event(s) are brought to the attention of the Associate Dean for Students, a rapid assessment is conducted to determine the urgency of the situation so that appropriate action may be taken. (See also Procedure for Distressed and/or Impaired Medical Students.)

A. Minor Concern: A single instance of unprofessional conduct or behavior that is determined to be of a very minor nature is recorded in the Associate Dean for Student's office. A student with repeated minor concerns must meet with MSS Care Team members to discuss the pattern of behavior. The discussion typically includes exploration of adjustment to school, academic performance, presence of life stressors, mental or physical health concerns, substance use, and history of prior behavioral concerns. The student is given information about internal and external resources during these sessions, including, but not limited to, academic support, health and wellness programs, and free and confidential counseling services. Students are then monitored closely for recurrence of inappropriate behavior or other concerns which would indicate that further action is required.

B. Minor Concern with More Significant Impact: Students with an instance of unprofessional conduct or behavior that is determined to be of a minor nature but with more significant impact must meet with MSS Care Team members for an advising/coaching session. Typically conducted by two team members, the purpose of this session is to gather information from the student about the reported behavior, including his/her recollection of events and perceptions about the behavior, and to inform the student of any negative ramifications of that behavior. The Code of Conduct, UASOM Essential Capacities/Technical Standards, and other appropriate SOM and UAB policies are discussed as needed in these sessions. Coaching feedback is provided and the student is asked to develop an action plan for improvement. The student is given information about internal and external resources during these sessions, including, but not limited to, academic support, health and wellness programs, and free and confidential counseling services.

C. Serious Concerns: Students with an instance of unprofessional conduct or behavior that is determined to be more serious must meet with MSS Care Team members. A similar approach as outlined above is utilized, but the student may be required to undergo further evaluation, for example through the Physician Resource Office. In the most serious instances, the Assistant Dean for Students may forego a meeting between the Care Team and the student, deeming the behavior "Non-academic Misconduct" and proceeding as described below. It may also be necessary for the Associate Dean for Students to contact other university offices (i.e, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs) to report the behavior and/or request assistance.

5. Consequences. Sanctions are based upon the seriousness of the concern and the student's response. Sanctions may include, but are not limited to, a noncompliance fee for failure to meet SOM requirements in a timely manner, suspension of university services, or a confidential letter to be kept in the Associate Dean for Student's office. Such a letter may be placed in the student's permanent educational record if further concerns arise about the student's conduct. In some instances a letter of professional concern may be immediately placed in the student's permanent educational record.

6. Non-academic Misconduct. Conduct or actions deemed to be a serious breach of SOM standards or which constitute a pattern of behavior which persists in spite of coaching and counseling will be deemed "Non-academic Misconduct" and will be reported to the Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education (SADME).

A. Dismissal of Allegation or Agreement to Resolve: The SADME will review the allegation of Non-academic Misconduct, including any supporting facts. If the SADME determines that the allegation lacks merit, it is dismissed and no further action will be taken. If the allegation is found to have merit, the SADME may attempt to resolve the matter in consultation with the student. If the SADME and student reach an agreement to resolve the situation, the agreement will be implemented and no further action will be taken.

B. Faculty Committee Review or Hearing: Depending on the circumstances, the SADME may draft a formal written charge of Non-academic Misconduct and select a committee of three to five experienced SOM faculty members to review the case.

1) The SADME will send a written notice of the allegation of Non-academic Misconduct to the student. This notification will include a brief summary of the allegation(s) and supporting facts, a copy of this policy and procedure, notice of the student's right to a hearing and the right to be accompanied by an advisor of the student's choosing, and notice of the hearing date(s).

2) The faculty committee will select a chair from among its members. The SADME and the Associate Dean for Students will serve as resources on institutional and school policy and answer questions about specific student, institutional, and school actions during the hearing.

3) A student may choose to decline to be present at the hearing. In this case the student may submit a written response to the allegation(s). The faculty committee will review the student's response and may receive other written documentation (both in favor of and/or opposed to the allegation), and may interview any witnesses it believes may have information related to the charge(s).

4) A student who chooses to be present at the hearing may make brief opening and/or closing statements, may direct questions to any witnesses through the committee chair, may offer testimony and/or other evidence to rebut the charge(s), and may be accompanied by an advisor. The advisor may not participate in the hearing, but the student may consult him or her in a non-disruptive manner during the hearing.

5) The faculty committee will meet to deliberate in a timely fashion after the hearing. The committee will report its findings, conclusions, and recommendations of any future actions, including disciplinary actions, in a written report to the SADME.

C. SADME Decision: The SADME may accept the findings and recommendations of the faculty committee in whole or in part, or may return the case to the committee with instructions for further consideration. The SADME will notify the student in writing once s/he has reached a decision. The decision of the SADME is final.

D. Appeal: The option to appeal to the Dean of the School of Medicine is only available to a student if the SADME decision results in adverse action that impedes the student's progress (i.e., leave of absence, dismissal from the School of Medicine). A student in this situation will be advised of this option and given a deadline (usually ten days from notification to the SADME's decision) to submit written notification of the intent to appeal. If written notification of the intent to appeal is not received by the SADME from the student by the designated time, the decision of the SADME will become final. If a timely appeal is made, any disciplinary action imposed by the SADME will be stayed while the appeal is under review by the Dean. The Dean and/or his/her designee(s) will review the information and procedures in the case plus any new information submitted by the student, and may schedule a meeting with the student. The Dean will notify the student of his/her decision in writing as soon as possible following conclusion of the appeal review. The decision of the Dean of the School of Medicine is final.

E. University Notification: The SADME will notify the UAB Assistant Vice President for Student Life of medical student Non-academic Misconduct findings.

See also:

Directions, UAB Student Handbook, Student Rights and Responsibilities, Non-Academic Conduct Policy http://www.uab.edu/handbook/

Medical Student Code of Professional Conduct: http://www.uab.edu/medicine/home/current-students/policies-procedures/code-of-conduct

Student Code of Professional Conduct Best Practices: http://www.uab.edu/medicine/home/current-students/policies-procedures/conduct-best-practices

Medical Student Essential Capacities/Technical Standards: http://uab.edu/medicine/techstandards

Report It system: www.uab.edu/reportit

Student Impairment Policy: http://www.uab.edu/medicine/home/current-students/policies-procedures/impairment-substance-abuse

UAB Ethics: http://uab.edu/ethics/

UAB Equal Opportunity and Discriminatory Harassment Policy: http://sppublic.ad.uab.edu/policies/pages/LibraryDetail.aspx?pID=52