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harassment of students in medicine

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The New England Journal of Medicine has a “Perspectives” piece that reports on a survey of graduate and professional students at the University of Texas and Pennsylvania State University. The take home: female medical students report incredibly high rates of harassment compared to almost all other areas.

Commentary: Definitely bad news, but it fits a pattern that a lot of people have hypothesized about. Namely, you expect exceptionally have rates of abuse in institutions that have lopsided power dynamics. And if any field concentrates power in the hands of the few, it is the world of medicine.

I don’t think that the power dynamics will change any time soon in medical education, but university leaders can do a few things. First, there have to be serious repercussions for reports of abuse. Universities are more responsive than before, so that may help. Second, and more importantly, universities should think about ways to disperse power and create multiple points of authority. Medical education is a situation where people wield a lot of authority over students. So if one person is abusive, there are few people to turn to. It is not clear to me what the solution might be, but it would start by rethinking the way that senior physicians interact with new doctors.

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Written by fabiorojas

September 17, 2018 at 4:22 am

Posted in uncategorized

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