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School of Medicine

Reporting and Responding to Breaches of Professionalism and Ethical Conduct

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Reporting a BCM community member’s lapse in professionalism is easily achieved by contacting either the Integrity Hotline at (855) 764-7294 or visiting http://bcm.ethicspoint.com. The hotline is staffed 24/7, and reports can be anonymous. All reports are confidential. Students may also want to visit the Student Grievances website and the Integrity Hotline Policy: Reporting Improper Activity or Wrongdoing (login required) for additional information that may be helpful prior to contacting the Integrity Hotline. 

A report made through either Ethics Point or the Integrity Hotline about a medical student’s unprofessional behavior is forwarded by the Provost’s Office to the Director of Medical Student Professionalism for review and triage to the appropriate responding entity. 

The Director of Medical Student Professionalism categorizes a medical student’s alleged breach of professionalism as a low, moderate, or serious behavior. The approach to each breach level is explained below:

Low level breaches 

  • Examples: punctuality issues, personal phone calls during educational time, or unprofessional appearance. 
  • Response: The Director of Medical Student Professionalism will meet individually with a student accused of a low-level breach. The meeting is not punitive but is meant to afford the student an opportunity to share his or her perception of the alleged breach, identify an stressors that may have contributed to the behavior, and help the student to gain insight into the unprofessional nature of the behavior (if the allegation is substantiated). No report is made to a Dean or the Committee on Student Promotions and Academic Achievement

Moderate level breaches 

  • Examples: repeated minor offenses or an unexcused absence from required curricular element.
  • Response: The Student Professionalism Response Intervention Team (SPRINT), led by the Director of Medical Student Professionalism, meets with the student. The meeting is not punitive but is meant to afford the student an opportunity to share his or her perception of the alleged breach, identify an stressors that may have contributed to the behavior, and help the student to gain insight into the unprofessional nature of the behavior (if the allegation is substantiated). No report is made to a Dean or the Committee on Student Promotions and Academic Achievement. 

Serious Level breaches 

  • Examples: repeated moderate offenses, illegal activity, including failing to report allegations of illegal activity in a timely manner, intoxication in clinical/learning setting, destruction of property; bullying, committing violent act, mistreating others, lying, cheating, falsifying records, or plagiarizing.
  • Response: 
    • Honor Council Jurisdiction: Any allegation that involves dishonesty, such as lying, cheating, plagiarizing, defaming, or falsifying academic or medical records, is sent to the Medical Student Honor Council for fact finding.  If the allegation is substantiated, and the student is found to have violated the BCM Honor Code, the student’s name and the Honor Council report will be forwarded to the Committee on Student Promotions and Academic Achievement via the Associate Dean of Student Affairs.
    • Not Within Honor Council Jurisdiction:  All other serious level breaches will be sent directly to the Associate Dean of Student Affairs (or designee) for investigation and response.  Some serious breaches implicate the safety of the learning and clinical environment and require either placing a student on administrative leave or subjecting the student to the Adverse Action of Suspension as specified in the Student Progression and Adverse Action Policy (28.1.05 -  login required) pending investigation.  
    • A breach of professionalism may result in course failure independent of academic performance. Furthermore, the Committee on Student Promotions & Academic Achievement may determine that a student’s serious breach of professionalism standards warrants an Adverse Action (see Student Progression and Adverse Action 28.1.05 – login required) of Probation or Dismissal. Serious level breaches of professionalism that may lead to an Adverse Action include, but are not limited to, the following: