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School of Medicine

Standards and Policies

Humanism

Faculty, housestaff and students should:

  • Treat patients, faculty, housestaff and students with humanism and sensitivity to diversity in characteristics such as culture, age, gender, disability, social and economic status, sexual orientation, etc., without discrimination, bias or harassment.

Cases for teaching and discussion


Case 1: Inappropriate gesture

During your round with the housestaff team, a male staff member comes up to the group, places his arm around the waist of a female house officer, and thanks her for the terrific job she did taking care of one of his patients. You sense that the house officer is made uncomfortable by the gesture. What would be an appropriate first response from you (as an attending physician)?

Used with permission of Peter C. Williams, J.D., Ph.D., Division of Medicine in Society, School of Medicine, Stony Brook, NY 11794.

Case 2: Teaching techniques

Mary, a fourth year student rotating through pediatrics, was assigned to present a patient for morning report. She did not admit the patient herself and was told about this task 10 minutes before rounds began. She walked into the pediatrics library to find that the chairman was sitting in for rounds that day. Mary presented the case with the limited information provided by the resident’s history and physical. The chairman asked her questions that escalated from historical questions to more probing questions that she clearly did not know the answer to. He continued to push her until she began to cry. After rounds, the chairman apologized, stating that in medicine “we learn by feeling stupid sometimes. That’s the way it is.”

Case from the AAMC-Organization of Student Representatives “Draw the Line” Project.

Case 3: “You speak their language...”

Roberto is a Hispanic, fourth-year student at RMS (Random Medical School). He is applying for medicine and has completed his core rotations. He did his medicine rotation at Hospital X, an institution that serves a primarily Spanish-speaking community. Roberto received the site assignment for his Family Medicine rotation, discovering that he was assigned to the same hospital. He decided to talk to the course director who oversees both the third-year rotation and Family Medicine about the possibility of switching sites, so that he could have a more diverse experience. The course director was shocked that Roberto came to him, saying “You speak their language, don’t you? I thought you would relate well to them. You are Puerto Rican aren’t you?”

Case from the AAMC-Organization of Student Representatives “Draw the Line” Project

Case 4: Ignored

Janice was rotating through Neurology with Tom and Victor. A percentage of the grade in this rotation was based on performance in teaching rounds. The subjects of these rounds were published in the syllabus, so the students were responsible for preparing before the fact. The three students met with the attending every other day. In all of those days, the attending never asked Janice any questions while he constantly asked Tom and Victor questions. The trend continued for the whole rotation. Janice felt ignored.

Case from the AAMC-Organization of Student Representatives “Draw the Line” Project

Case 5: Not welcome

A fellow graduate student is gay and has a longtime partner; this is well known in the department. You notice that for departmental social occasions, other students are invited as “John Doe and Guest” to accommodate spouses or dates, but this student receives invitations in his name alone. He has told you that because of this, he avoids attending these events, which greatly enhance collegial contacts useful now and in the future.

What, if anything, should you do?

Developed by Kathy Kreutzer and Laurie Lyckholm, Bioethics and Humanities, VCU School of Medicine.