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Guidelines for Conduct in Teacher/Learner Relationships
I. Statement of Philosophy
The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is committed to fostering an environment that promotes academic and professional success in learners and teachers at all levels. The achievement of such success is dependent on an environment free of behaviors which can undermine the important missions of our institution. An atmosphere of mutual respect, collegiality, fairness, and trust is essential. Although both teachers and learners bear significant responsibility in creating and maintaining this atmosphere, teachers also bear particular responsibility with respect to their evaluative roles relative to student work and with respect to modeling appropriate professional behaviors. Teachers must be ever mindful of this responsibility in their interactions with their colleagues, their patients, and those whose education has been entrusted to them.
II. Responsibilities in the Teacher/Learner Relationship
A. Responsibilities of teachers
B. Responsibilities of learners
III. Behaviors Inappropriate to the Teacher-Learner Relationship
These behaviors are those which demonstrate disrespect for others or lack of professionalism in interpersonal conduct. Although there is inevitably a subjective element in the witnessing or experiencing of such behaviors, certain actions are clearly inappropriate and will not be tolerated by the institution. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
IV. Avenues for Addressing Inappropriate Behavior in the Teacher/Learner Context
A. Learners’ Concerns
Learners may address situations in which they feel that they have been the object of inappropriate behavior at various levels. At the most basic level, the most effective way to handle a situation may be to address it immediately and non-confrontationally. Oftentimes, a person is simply unaware that his/her behavior has offended someone, or even if aware, will correct the behavior appropriately if given the opportunity to do so in a way that is not threatening. The way to raise such an issue is to describe the behavior factually (“When you said…”), describe how the behavior made you feel (“I felt …”), and state that the behavior needs to stop or not be repeated (“Please, don’t do that again.”)
Sometimes, such a request is not successful, or the person repeats the behavior, or the learner does not feel comfortable speaking directly to the teacher about his/her behavior. In those cases, it may be helpful to discuss the behavior with course directors, laboratory mentors, program directors, or department chairs. Students may also elect to speak to their respective Associate or Assistant Deans for informal advice and counsel about these issues. These individuals may offer additional suggestions for resolving the matter informally, such as, for example, speaking to the individual on the learner’s behalf or on behalf of an entire class, raising the general issue in a faculty meeting, assisting the learner with writing to the individual teacher or even direct intervention to get the behavior to stop.
If no satisfactory resolution is reached after these discussions or the learner does not feel comfortable speaking to these individuals, he/she may bring the matter formally to the attention of the School of Medicine administration. The avenues for this more formal reporting vary depending upon the status of the reporting individual.
1. If the person reporting the behavior is a medical student:
2. If the person reporting the behavior is a graduate student or M.D./Ph.D. student pursuing their graduate studies:
3. If the person reporting the behavior is a post-graduate trainee (i.e. resident or clinical fellow):
4. If the person reporting the behavior is a research fellow:
B. Teachers’ Concerns
If a teacher feels that a learner has engaged in inappropriate behavior, it is likewise most effective to address the situation immediately and non-confrontationally. If the matter is not resolved satisfactorily, the teacher should contact the course director, program director, or laboratory mentor to discuss the matter. If the teacher wishes to make a formal allegation of misconduct, they should contact the following members of the administration:
1. If the matter involves a medical student, contact the Associate/Assistant Dean for Student Affairs;
2. If the matter involves a graduate student, contact the Associate Dean for Graduate Student Affairs;
3. If the matter involves a postgraduate trainee, contact the Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education;
4. If the matter involves a research fellow, contact the Associate Dean for Postdoctoral Affairs.
These allegations will be handled according to established School of Medicine policies published elsewhere.
V. Procedures for Handling Allegations of Inappropriate Behavior in the Teacher/Learner Context
A. Upon being notified of alleged inappropriate behavior, the Associate or Assistant Dean will notify senior administration officials in a written report within 5 business days of the allegation as follows:
B. If the behavior involves unlawful discrimination or sexual or other forms of unlawful harassment, the matter will be referred to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Actions Programs and be handled through University policies established for that office. The student may also directly contact that office.
C. If the behavior involves unwanted physical contact or other forms of violent or threatening acts, the matter may be referred for evaluation under the University’s Policy Addressing Campus Violence.
E. The School of Medicine will not tolerate any form of retaliatory behavior toward learners who make allegations in good faith. Individuals who believe that action has been taken against them in retaliation for raising concerns under this policy, may address those concerns through the procedures described in this policy.
F. Records of all communications as well as the written reports of the Associate Deans and ad hoc committee will be kept in the Office of the Vice Dean for Education.
G. If it is determined that the allegations from the complainant were not made in good faith, the student or post-graduate trainee will be referred for disciplinary action under the appropriate University procedures which are described elsewhere.