This Month's News
Working to ensure more accurate data on medical student mistreatment
Aided by the discussion at an AMA-convened invitational meeting last December, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has made significant changes to its annual questionnaire of graduating medical students to improve collection of data on medical student mistreatment. This resulting data should be more complete, because students will have a better understanding of how mistreatment is defined and what exactly it entails.
In the past, students were asked where they had been mistreated during medical school; those who answered "yes" would then see a list of more specific questions related to mistreatment. For the current 2012 survey, these questions will be visible to all students, to ascertain, for example, whether the student was:
- Publicly humiliated
- Threatened with physical harm
- Physically harmed (e.g., hit, slapped, kicked)
- Required to perform personal services (e.g., shopping, babysitting)
- Subjected to offensive sexist remarks/names
- Denied opportunities for training or rewards based on gender
The initial impetus for the attention to this issue came from a letter in 2010 to the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, which accredits allopathic medical school programs in the U.S. and Canada. Subsequently, in June 2011, at its House of Delegates meeting, the AMA held an education program, "Optimizing the Learning Environment: Exploring the Issue of Medical Student Mistreatment," that outlined the scope of the problem and suggested potential solutions.
Current data from previous questionnaires show that approximately one in five medical students report that they have experienced mistreatment. Data from the 2012 questionnaire, which is currently in the field, will be available for release by the fall.
The AMA's work on this issue is directly related to its Innovative Strategies for Transforming the Education of Physicians program, which seeks to evaluate medical education processes and outcomes; develop physicians who are knowledgeable, competent and compassionate; and ultimately improve the care of patients.