A comprehensive program for both facilitating a professional environment and providing a system to collect and track all reports to ensure accountability and follow-through.
The Tulane University School of Medicine (SOM) is committed to creating and maintaining a positive and respectful environment for its faculty, learners and staff by holding accountable those who do not follow the tenets of professional workplace behavior. The SOM Guiding Principles outline our prioritized core values and link them to behavioral expectations. Each year, all members of our community will acknowledge receipt of these principles. An emphasis has been placed on recognizing those individuals with exemplary behavior and who are role models for professionalism.
The Professionalism/Environment of Learning Program (PELP) is designed to facilitate the creation and maintenance of an environment that is professional, respectful, inclusive, and intellectually stimulating. The PELP allows individuals to both recognize exemplary behavior as well as submit concerns about all aspects of the learning environment.
The program receives all concerns, which can be submitted through a variety of mechanisms, and documents and records them in a confidential database. Each report is reviewed and managed following established algorithms, approved by the PELP Advisory Board. An essential assumption is that all members of our community do not intend harm, rather may need education and awareness of the impact of their actions. Thus, early intervention is key to prevent continued or escalated unprofessional behavior.
1. Facilitate a professional learning and work environment based on our Guiding Principles that is inclusive of all.
2. Provide consistent educational opportunities for all members of our community.
3. Provide a clear and transparent process for reviewing and resolving all submissions.
4. Provide a fair system to ensure accountability of all members of our community.
5. Build and maintain trust by making available all relevant data and metrics to ensure the integrity of the program.
6. Ensure confidentiality and minimize fear of retaliation.
7. Provide oversight to ensure resources are provided to units with recurrent concerns.
A team of three senior faculty will be appointed to review each report as they are received. The role of this team, called the TRIO, is to triage and ensure each concern is thoroughly and properly addressed using the Professionalism Pyramid method as well as to ensure follow up. A senior administrator in the school will be assigned to provide logistical support to the TRIO and manage the database. Incoming reports will be reviewed each business day. The TRIO will also oversee the Professionalism Committee, made up of appointed faculty, trained to be peer awareness intervention counselors. The program is managed as a component of the Dean’s office.
For students, any breach that falls under the purview of the Honor Board should be referred to the Honor Board directly. This procedure is outlined in the April 1999 revision of the Honor Code, available on the Student Affairs website. Such breaches include cheating, stealing, impairing another student’s ability to learn, or acting in a deceitful manner.
For breaches in professional behavior outside of those considered by the Honor Board will be addressed using the method of the Professionalism Pyramid for Graduated Interventions: It issue will first be referred to the Director of Students Support and Wellness for initial informal intervention. If a pattern of behavior emerges, the student would then be refered to the senior associate dean for Admissions and Student Affairs, who will speak directly with the parties involved and reviewing evidence. If further problems arise, the issue will be brought to the Student Professionalism and Promotion Committee for discussion and potential intervention or disciplinary action. (For more detailed information, please see the Student Handbook)
Exemplary treatment of a learner or any member of the learning environment, either experienced or witnessed, can be reported by utilizing the Kudos Form link.
Exemplary behavior is essential for the growth of a more accountable, professional environment. Therefore, those who have received 10 or more exceptional reports will be recognized by the Dean and inducted into the 10 Owls Society.
For students, residents or faculty:
Perceived inappropriate treatment of a learner or any member of the learning environment, either experienced or witnessed, should be reported by one or more of the following methods:
For students only:
In addition to the methods listed above, students have the opportunity to report perceived concerning behavior by reporting:
If requested, all reports received will be kept anonymous and confidential. Anonymous reports will be reviewed to the extent that specific information is provided. Please note that full disclosure of the persons involved and the behaviors witnessed can lead to more effective action to correct the problem. Therefore, reporting the names of all individuals involved is strongly encouraged.
The identity of learners reporting inappropriate treatment can often be protected by delaying action on the report until the learner is no longer vulnerable. Each of the reporting mechanisms described above allows the learner to request delayed action on the report. Please note, however, that time delays in addressing an incident may lessen the impact of the intervention.
The establishment of a safe environment is a quality improvement initiative and therefore, all reporting is legally non-discoverable.
The School and the University will keep confidential all records of complaints and investigations to the extent permitted by law. To reiterate, behaviors that violate Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments to the Higher Education Act, which includes discrimination or harassment based on sex or gender, must be reported by any University official so they can be promptly acted upon in compliance with federal law.
If a report suggests discrimination, the School is required to notify the University’s Office of Institutional Equity so that an investigation may be initiated.
Behaviors that pose an immediate danger to others (e.g., violence or threats of physical violence, illegal drug use by caregivers in the clinical setting, deliberate violation of patient safety procedures) or are illegal (e.g., stealing narcotics, falsifying patient records) must also result in immediate reporting so that action can be taken.
The success of PELP in safe‐guarding the learning environment depends on the timely reporting of incidents of inappropriate treatment. In all cases, retaliation, or the encouragement of another to retaliate against the person making such a report will be considered a breach of professionalism and will be addressed accordingly.
Intentional false or malicious reports of concerning behaviors will not be tolerated and will be handled as a disciplinary matter in the learner’s program. All reports of concerning behavior will be handled confidentially, with the exceptions noted above, and in a manner that affords due process.
All reports of will be triaged by the TRIO* for an initial determination of merit. All reports directly affecting a student will be made available to the administrative leadership of the Offices of Student Affairs and Academic Affairs. If requested by the individual reporting, the timing of a review can be adjusted or delayed to protect them. We encourage all reports to be as detailed as possible to allow for a complete review. Processes for review and follow up will vary depending upon the situation and are summarized as follow:
Of note, this system is NOT meant for residents and faculty to report unprofessional behavior of students, which is an option on the end-of-course and -clerkship evaluations.
In all cases, a report will first be made back to the Professionalism TRIO. The person who reported the inappropriate treatment, if identified, will be notified that action has been taken on his/her report. Specific details of any action may not generally be revealed.
On a quarterly basis, the TRIO will review the results of the previous quarter and analyze the data for trends. In addition, a overall, de-identified summary will be published for all learners and faculty on a quarterly basis, and posted on the Professionalism/Environment of Learning Program website. A timely review will allow for early intervention for those individuals with recurrent issues. The tracking will include a rolling 36-month trend.
Tulane School of Medicine has adopted the Professionalism Pyramid for Graduated Interventions for addressing report of unprofessional behavior by faculty. This workflow has been approved by the Executive Faculty of the School of Medicine.