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A Pilot Study of Medical Student 'Abuse' Student Perceptions of Mistreatment and Misconduct in Medical School

K. Harnett Sheehan, PhD; David V. Sheehan, MD; Kim White, MD; Alan Leibowitz, MD; DeWitt C. Baldwin Jr, MD
JAMA. 1990;263(4):533-537. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440040072031.
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A pilot survey of one third-year medical school class was carried out to explore student perceptions of mistreatment and professional misconduct in medical school training. Students were asked to rate the frequency and cite sources of mistreatment and misconduct among classmates, faculty, residents, and interns. They were also asked to assess the effects of such episodes on their physical health, emotional well-being, social and family life, and attitudes toward becoming a physician. The results indicate that students perceive mistreatment (particularly verbal abuse and unfair tactics) to be pervasive and professional misconduct all too common. As many as three fourths of the students report having become more cynical about academic life and the medical profession as a result of these episodes. Two thirds feel they are worse off than their peers in other professions. More than a third have considered dropping out of medical school and one fourth report they would have chosen a different profession had they known in advance about the extent of mistreatment they would experience. Rather than dismiss these problems as isolated events, we need to examine this issue more closely.

(JAMA. 1990;263:533-537)


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