FAQs

Mistreatment can affect you emotionally and physically. You have either had an experience that is new to you or that has triggered a response based on past experiences. You are likely confused and upset.

Talking to someone allows you to get the support you need and can help you to understand what has happened. You can get information on how to handle the situation or how to handle a similar situation in the future. A faculty member or the Professionalism Office can discuss your options and help you choose the next steps you wish to take.

The first goal of speaking to someone is to ensure you are supported so you should speak to someone you trust. This could be someone from your personal life or someone from the Faculty of Medicine. We have identified some people in the Faculty who have a special interest in learner mistreatment issues and who are experienced in navigating the reporting systems within Faculty of Medicine and UBC.

No discussion of your concerns is a waste of time. Listen to your instincts and discuss situations of perceived mistreatment with other learners and faculty. Don't pretend this is not happening. Recognize that mistreatment tends to get worse the longer it is ignored. Take responsibility for protecting yourself and others. Get to know the people and policies that can protect you.

If you have had an experience that is troubling you, it is better to share your concerns with someone who can help you to clarify your feelings and decide how you want to handle the situation.

Also, sharing your concerns provides important information to the Faculty of Medicine that can be used to improve the learning environment for everyone. Interventions in situations of mistreatment are more effective if done at the time of the event or experience. Much of the information we receive about learner mistreatment is from exit surveys so it is often out-dated and non-specific. This makes it more difficult to effectively respond and address the issue.

An in person meeting is usually the best way to connect and gather information. While an in-person meeting is preferred it is more important that we hear about concerns related to mistreatment, so however we can best be made aware of your concerns and start a discussion is fine.

It is common for learners who have experienced or witnessed mistreatment to be confused and afraid which is why we provide contacts with whom you can have an initial discussion. They can help you to connect with the Professionalism Office or help you to make an on-line report. While others can provide support and assistance it is preferable to hear from you directly to obtain the information we need to help you deal with the situation or to take any corrective action. You can have a support person with you when you speak with someone.

Whatever steps are taken to address your concern you will be provided with ongoing support and will have a contact person with whom you can discuss the process or any concerns that arise. Many learners are afraid of retaliation or other consequences for reporting a concern. Retaliation is not acceptable and the Faculty of Medicine will investigate reports of any incidents of direct or indirect threats, attempts, or actions of retaliation. Engaging in retaliation is a basis for disciplinary action.

Please see the section on Reprisal and Retaliation on the Reporting page.

Sexual Misconduct is any sexual act, or act targeting, your sexuality, gender identity or gender expression, whether the act is physical or psychological in nature, that is committed, threatened or attempted against you without your consent. Sexual violence and assault are criminal matters managed by the police. UBC is required by legislation to have a process to address allegations of sexual misconduct. If you do not wish to report an incident of sexual assault or sexual violence to the police you may make a Disclosure or a Report under UBC Policy SC 17.

Even if you do not wish to report the incident or make a Disclosure or Report under the Policy you are encouraged to contact UBC’s Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office (SVPRO) . The SVPRO is a safe and confidential place for students, faculty and staff who have experienced sexual misconduct, regardless of when or where it took place. All gender identities, expressions and sexualities are welcome. SVPRO can help make a safety plan, navigate hospital and police systems, explain reporting options, facilitate academic concessions and coordinate workplace accommodations.

Call 604.822.1588, Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or email gethelp@svpro.ubc.ca.

Yes, you do not have to be the direct target of mistreatment for the conduct to affect you or your learning experience. As a witness, you have also experienced the event, even if indirectly, and this may be disruptive your learning and may diminish your experience of the learning environment. Talking to someone within Faculty of Medicine will help you decide whether you can or should intervene to help the person who was directly involved to come forward, or whether you need, or want, to take further steps on your own.

Yes. If you choose you may report anonymously through the online reporting tool. You may report your concerns or experience but identifiable information about you will not be collected. This also means that we will not be able to follow up with you, and in most circumstances the scope of our inquiries or efforts to address your concerns are limited. If your concerns are the same or similar to other concerns we have received about the same individual or situation there may be an institutional inquiry into the situation described.

If you email the Professionalism Office or file an online report, you can expect to hear back by email within 48 hours. Other contacts are available and will respond according to their work hours.

If there is an emergency situation, you should remove yourself from the area and call Campus Security or Building Security or 911.

It depends on the nature of your concern and the scope of inquiry required to resolve the issue. Many concerns can be resolved by a discussion with one of the faculty contacts or the Professionalism Office. Some learners are content to talk through their concerns and explore ways to approach the situation slightly differently, or with a different frame of reference. Some issues can be handled informally and quickly by the person to whom you first speak; others may require more extensive inquiry and involvement of faculty in your program or in the faculty or staff member’s department. Other concerns may generate an institutional inquiry or a formal investigation. These could take weeks to resolve.

Every situation of mistreatment or disruption of the learning environment is different. Interventions and resolution differ depending on a number of factors. Of the people who contact the Professionalism Office and request intervention 60% of the time there is some resolution within one month. Our experience is that 30% of the time people only want to discuss the situation or to get more information. The remaining situations are more complicated and take varying amounts of time to resolve.

Not everyone who makes a report to the Faculty of Medicine wants to participate in additional inquiries or processes to address their concerns. Although we try to encourage everyone in the Faculty of Medicine community to be involved in dealing with and eliminating mistreatment this may not be possible or practical for some learners in all situations. Some learners may only want support and information that will assist them in dealing with the current situation or future similar situations. No learner will be forced to participate in any inquiry related to a reported concern. In certain circumstances the Faculty of Medicine will be required to address the situation in any event. While the information you provide may be relied upon to proceed every effort will be made not to disclose your identity. You will be advised of any further steps the Faculty of Medicine may take independent of you to gather additional information to address the concern you have identified.

“Not substantiated” is not a finding that the conduct complained of did not happen or that there has been a false report. A finding that a complaint is not substantiated means that there is not enough information or credible evidence to establish your claims or for the Faculty of Medicine to take direct remedial action. This finding may mean that no disciplinary steps can be taken against an individual to remediate or resolve the situation. However, even in these situations there may be opportunities for discussion or to implement changes that can improve the learning environment.

You do not cause trouble for yourself by reaching out to talk to someone. As long as you report your experiences truthfully there will not be any action taken against you. Even if you make a report and there is not enough evidence to support your claim you will not be in any trouble. If you have a confidential conversation with us there will be no record kept in your academic file. We keep internal confidential records to document your concerns and the process employed to address those concerns. Information about your concerns will be shared with those within the Faculty of Medicine responsible for responding to your concerns.

This is a reasonable concern and one of the reasons that we do not require learners to file formal complaints or even to participate in further inquiries if they are worried about the consequences of reporting. The Faculty of Medicine is responsible for the learning environment and we may have to take steps to address your concern even if you do not wish to proceed. If you are concerned about disclosure of your identity, or if disclosing your concern is likely to disclose your identity, we will try to deal with the concern without that disclosure. You will be advised of the steps we will take and any subsequent inquiries will be carried out on a confidential basis to address your wish not to be identified.

In the event that the fact that you reported a concern becomes known in your program and you are fearful of consequences we encourage you to speak with the Professionalism Office or your program contact. If you experience retaliation you should report the conduct so that appropriate intervention can be initiated. See section on Retaliation under the Reporting tab.

If you experience retaliation you should contact the Professionalism Office. Engaging in retaliation is a further incident of mistreatment and undermines the integrity of the FOM process for addressing concerns. Steps will be taken to investigate the alleged retaliatory conduct and appropriate remedies will be imposed. Please see the section on Retaliation under the Reporting tab.

The Faculty of Medicine is committed to engaging in fair, transparent and respectful processes to address reproted concerns. You do not need a lawyer when you report a concern. Even if the matter is subsequently subject to an inquiry or investigation you do not need any legal representation. You are not at any legal risk by honestly and in good faith reporting a concern or experience.

Even if a concern or complaint has been made about you it is not usually necessary for you to have a lawyer, although you may retain one if you wish. However, during the process of inquiring into the concerns or complaint we need to hear from you directly, not from your advocate.

Witnesses who report concerns or who participate in processes to address concerns or complaints do not need lawyers.

During these processes learners can bring a support person to any meetings or interviews to help them by taking notes or providing emotional support.

Mistreatment cannot thrive in an environment where members of the community have the support of their peers, their colleagues and Faculty leaders to confront disrespectful or unprofessional behaviours. Ideally we should all be able to respond to mistreatment directly by confronting those behaviours that have a negative impact on the learning environment. The imbalance of power between faculty and learners, and between some categories of learners, the fear of retaliation, or of not being believed or supported, often prevents us from speaking up. Sometimes we are not sure that the behaviour we have experienced or witnessed is mistreatment.

The Faculty is committed to raising awareness about mistreatment and to developing processes to respond effectively to reports of mistreatment. Equally important is the development of proactive initiatives to be implemented across the Faculty that will support positive behaviours, build resilience, and improve communication and other skills that contribute to creating and maintaining a culture of respect, inclusion and excellence.

An institutional inquiry may be undertaken if there are multiple reports about the same, or similar concerns regarding the conduct of one individual, or group of individuals. In an institutional inquiry the Faculty is the complainant and the identities of the learners who have reported the concerns are usually not disclosed, although information they have provided will be shared with the respondent. If you are a learner who has identified a mistreatment issue in these circumstances you may be asked to be a witness and to provide information in the inquiry. The process will be discussed with you and you will decide whether, and in what capacity, you wish to participate. While we encourage learners to participate in the processes for addressing mistreatment there is no obligation to do so.

When a concern or experience of mistreatment is reported other learners may be identified as witnesses because the learner reporting the concern believes these other learners have information relevant to resolving the concerns. The participation of witnesses is often critical to the Faculty's ability to address identified concerns. While we encourage you to participate if you are identified as a witness you do not have to participate and there will not be any adverse consequences related to your decision not to participate in the process.