Professionalism concern note
Insofar as all aspects of a student’s behavior reflects on that student’s qualifications and potential to become a competent professional, any dishonest, unethical, irresponsible, or criminal conduct is viewed as unprofessional behavior and which is within the purview of the Colleges of Medicine, Pharmacy and Graduate Studies faculty. Specific issues of concern include not adhering to the “Expectations of Professional Behavior and Student Conduct,” the characteristics mentioned above, abuse of power (discrimination and sexual harassment, breach of confidentiality), misrepresentation, impairment (from substance abuse), and lack of professionalism.
If allegations of unprofessional behavior are received via the Professionalism Concern Note (PCN), students are notified with the goal of education, discussions may be scheduled with University or College representatives to assist the student to grow in their professionalism, and in the case where the behavior is repeated, disruptive, destructive, serious cases may be referred to the Student Conduct process for either an informal resolution or for formal resolution through the Student Conduct Hearing Board review.
PCNs are not placed in the student’s permanent file unless the student’s status is changed as a result of the formal Student Conduct Hearing Board (ex. suspension, dismissal).
Peers, faculty and staff who observe unprofessional behavior are encouraged to discuss the concern with the individual of concern in a supportive and educational manner before submitting a PCN. In addition, while PCNs may be submitted anonymously, anonymous PCNs are challenging to adjudicate and NEOMED encourages self-identification so that evidence may be properly gathered to ensure fairness of the process.
The purpose of the PCN is to confidentially report instances or patterns of substandard professional behavior and to initiate a process for discussing, understanding and remediating unprofessional behavior in order to develop professional, humanistic and thoughtful health care providers.
- Concerns about student professional academic behavior may arise from a faculty member with whom a student interacts during a course or another faculty member, clinical staff member, preceptors, staff member, student or patient with whom the student interacts. These individuals are expected to report their concerns to the faculty responsible for the student’s course evaluation. Faculty are expected to discuss all concerns about a student’s professional behavior both with the student and the course/clerkship director, who will decide whether to formally submit a PCN.
- If the concern for substandard behavior arises outside of a course, faculty or staff may submit the PCN directly to the Senior Executive Director of Academic Affairs & Student Services.
- It is suggested that before filing a PCN, a faculty member filing the PCN may hold a face-to-face meeting with the student to discuss the concern. In the sole discretion of the person filing the report, other persons may be asked to attend. If a face-to-face meeting is not feasible, an explanation of the reason(s) and ways in which the student was contacted must be included. At times, this process of discussion and fact-finding may result in the decision not to file a PCN.
- The PCN will consist of a narrative statement describing the incident using the University’s official PCN reporting form. Optionally, the student of concern may also file a response via the Student Response Form to the allegation, which could include a different side of the story, details regarding extenuating circumstances and/or discussion of remediation using the PCN.
- Peers may also file a PCN when unprofessional behavior is observed. Peers may file these concerns anonymously but are encouraged to confidentially discuss the issue with the Senior Executive Director of Academic Affairs & Student Services so that the most effective method for investigating and remediating the behavior can be identified.
- The PCN must be filed within 30 days of the occurrence of the episode.
- A confidential, restricted database is used to track Professionalism Concerns.
RESPONSES TO PCNS
The Senior Executive Director of Academic Affairs & Student Services will review each PCN and contact the student regarding the concern. The PCN process will allow for the following interactions with students:
Before a PCN is filed, we encourage members of the NEOMED community to first discuss the concern with the student so that a student may change their professional behavior. If the behavior continues, a PCN may be filed and is received by the Senior Executive Director of Academic Affairs & Student Services.
When a first time PCN is filed, the student may be notified via email of the allegation, depending on the serious of the matter or the degree of evidence available to confirm the allegation. The student of concern is given an opportunity to submit a response to the allegations. Depending on the seriousness of the allegation, there may be no further action following notification.
Second PCNs will result in a notification via email, an opportunity to submit a response to the allegations, and a meeting with the Senior Executive Director of Academic Affairs & Student Services and/or the college-specific Assistant Dean of Students to discuss a plan for addressing the behavior, professional development goals and remediation. Depending on the seriousness of the allegation, there may be no further action following the meeting.
Multiple PCNs and/or repeated unprofessional behavior will result in notification to the student of concern of the allegations, an opportunity to submit a response to the allegations, a required meeting with the Senior Executive Director of Academic Affairs & Student Services and/or college and a decision regarding whether to forward the aggregate professionalism concerns for review to Student Conduct. Student Conduct includes an opportunity for an informal resolution or, if one can not be met informally, the matter is referred to the Student Conduct Hearing Board for a formal resolution. The “Administration of Student Conduct” Policy provides further details regarding the resolution of student conduct concerns.