In a survey of 12,195 medical students across the country, mistreatment was reported by 47% of respondents. Quite a high rate, but what's more concerning is the fact that only 17% of these students reported the incidents. That means the harassment may have continued for subsequent students as well, without any administrative intervention. Listed harassment included public humiliation, sexist remarks, or being require to perform personal tasks for physicians that were outside their job description. Being the focus of such harassment means that medical student's attitude is changed, which can negatively affect patient interactions as well.
“Medical student cynicism has been a perpetual problem in medical education. That is one of the fallouts from medical student abuse. Many students come to school with great enthusiasm. By the time they come out, they are well-trained and certainly their knowledge base has grown, but there is no question that their attitudes have changed.” ~ Dr. Jerald Kay, Professor and Chair of Department of Psychology (Boonshoft School of Medicine)
How can medical students be encouraged to report their issues, and hopefully decrease the incidence? One obstacle to overcome is fear of repercussions. Medical students are staying silent because they're afraid to draw attention to themselves, and therefore draw the ire of their fellow classmates or their superiors. Added to this issue is the lack of anonymity. If one person out of a group of five or ten reports a problem, then it is easy to figure out who told. If students don't feel safe to report issues, they won't. Until these problems are faced, they will continue. Medical students may feel like it's just part of the process toward being a physician, but it doesn't have to be. Changing the medical school environment will improve attitudes and learning environment, in turn making better physicians entering the workforce.
|Type of mistreatment||Never||Once||Occasionally||Frequently|
|Threatened with physical harm||98.5%||1.1%||0.4%||0.0%|
|Required to perform personal services||90.6%||5.7%||3.5%||0.2%|
|Subjected to sexist remarks||84.3%||6.4%||8.7%||0.7%|
|Denied opportunities for training or rewards based on gender||94.1%||2.4%||3.1%||0.4%|
|Received lower evaluations or grades because of gender||93.5%||4.4%||1.9%||0.3%|
|Subjected to unwanted sexual advances||95.4%||2.6%||1.9%||0.2%|
|Asked to exchange sexual favors for grades or other rewards||99.8%||0.1%||0.1%||0.0%|
|Denied opportunities based on race or ethnicity||97.3%||0.9%||1.3%||0.6%|