Best Practices for Student Professional Conduct

This document is intended to supplement the UASOM Student Code of Professional Conduct. It is neither a replacement of nor a substitution for the more general ideals outlined in the Code of Professional Conduct. Furthermore, this best practices document is an exposition of specific, practical applications of professional conduct and is by no means a complete listing of "DO's" and "DON'Ts". This guide is intended to facilitate adherence to the Code of Professional Conduct in order that we might maintain the highest standards of excellence, support the healthy development of future physicians, and maintain the primary importance of patient welfare. If ever in doubt, it is highly recommended that you seek advice through the appropriate channels.

Patient Privacy and Confidentiality

Inherent in our professional responsibilities is the duty to protect patient privacy. Breaching this privacy is a violation which goes beyond the potential consequences of job loss, lawsuits, or other personal detriment, for it is a violation of the trust essential to the patient-doctor relationship.

    • Be aware of HIPAA and other local, state, federal, and institutional regulations related to all patient information.
      • Go above and beyond HIPAA regulations in order to protect patient confidentiality.
    • Be vigilant when discussing patients.
      • Take extra care in public areas such as the elevator, hallway, cafeteria, or break room.
      • Refrain from discussing patients with others except when necessary for clinical duties.
    • All written notes of patient information should be filed securely or shredded as appropriate.
      • Patient notes written electronically should be properly logged out.
      • Patient charts should be stored appropriately after their use.
    • Be aware that nothing posted on the Internet is truly private. Anything posted on the internet may ultimately be viewed by unintended audiences.
      • Never disclose patient information, such as geographic location, procedures performed, or any other form of patient interaction, even if the patient is not identified.
      • Take care to regularly update your Internet security settings.
      • Never access medical records unless you are involved in the care of that patient.

Societal Responsibilities

As medical students, our responsibility to society extends beyond developing the knowledge and skills to effectively practice our profession. The public perception of medical students and by extension physicians can have far-reaching consequences on our ability to help and serve others.
    • Recognizing a diverse society, strive to limit any offense or grievance to others.
      • Understand that your personal beliefs are not necessarily shared by patients or others.
    • Maintain a clear mind and good health through healthy personal habits.
    • Remember that our profession is wholly devoted to serving others individually and through our communities.
      • Show dignity and respect to others through compassion and humility at all times.
      • Keep abreast of current events as they relate to medicine as one aspect of life-long learning.
      • Become an active and engaged member of the community by participating in volunteer activities, research, and extracurricular activities.
      • Refrain from misusing or destroying property belonging to any person or entity.
      • All forms of harassment including verbal, physical, psychological, and sexual are unacceptable at all times.
      • Refrain from using social media as an outlet to express your feelings about patients, peers, colleagues, faculty, and staff.
      • Ensure that your actions and communications, even electronic, demonstrate your respect for others at all times.
      • Do not use derogatory or offensive language, be it cursing, vulgarity, slurs or otherwise, which demeans a fellow human being.

Honesty and Integrity

The physician's ability to freely communicate with her patient depends heavily on a foundation of trust. It is imperative that we are honest in order to maintain the integrity of that foundation.

    • Abide by the UASOM Student Honor Code and take responsibility to report perceived violations.
    • If in doubt about the permissibility of study materials, ask the course director before using or sharing them.
    • Report impaired colleagues to the appropriate member of the administration.
    • Maintain integrity in research.

Respect for Persons

All patients expect to be treated respectfully, regardless of their background, history, or any other social status. Treating patients with respect allows the free exchange of ideas necessary to make proper diagnoses and treatment decisions.

    • Be mindful of the cultural and religious beliefs of others, whether patients or colleagues, and strive to interact with them in a non-discriminatory manner.
    • Understand that social networks are public domain and that comments made in these forums regarding patients, staff, or other students can have personal and professional ramifications.
    • Consider comments made online to carry the same significance as if they were verbally spoken. Do not make a comment about someone that you would not want them to hear you say in person.
    • Be careful not to make derogatory or potentially offensive comments regarding patients or other colleagues in any public environment, including online.
    • Strive to assist colleagues in maintaining a positive image in all social and public environments.
    • Carefully consider the implications of forming online relationships with attendings, fellows, residents, other students, and patients.
    • Be punctual and prepared, thus demonstrating respect for others.
    • If incapable of functioning in a fully effective way on behalf of others, seek appropriate assistance and relief.
    • Maintain a professional presentation.
      • Use professional language in communicating ideas and information to patients, peers, and members of the health care team.
      • Maintain a professional appearance for all patient interactions.
        • Be clean, neat, modest, and well groomed for all meetings and patient encounters.
      • Maintain a professional appearance on social media outlets and restrict access to your personal page to people of your choosing.
        • In social media applications, connections to patients have inherent risks. Those choosing to be active in social media should consider interacting through a unique professional profile, separate from any personal profile.
        • Be especially mindful that anywhere on the internet is essentially publicly accessible, even "personal" webpages.
      • Maintain an appearance in educational settings that does not distract from the learning environment for others.