Introduction: Medical student mistreatment is a prevalent and significant challenge for medical schools across the country, associated with negative emotional and professional consequences for students. The Association of American Medical Colleges and Liaison Committee on Medical Education have increasingly emphasized the issue of mistreatment in recent years, and medical schools are tasked with creating a positive learning climate.
Methods: The authors describe the efforts of an emergency department (ED) to improve its clerkship learning environment, using a multifaceted approach for collecting mistreatment data and relaying them to educators and clerkship leadership. Data are gathered through end-of-rotation evaluations, teaching evaluations, and an online reporting system available to medical students. Mistreatment data are then relayed to the ED during semi-annual meetings between clerkship leadership and medical school assistant deans, and through annual mistreatment reports provided to department chairs.
Results: Over a two-year period, students submitted a total of 56 narrative comments related to mistreatment or unprofessional behavior during their emergency medicine (EM) clerkship. Of these comments, 12 were submitted in 2015-16 and 44 were submitted in 2016-17. The most frequently observed themes were students feeling ignored or marginalized by faculty (14 comments); students being prevented from speaking or working with patients and/or attending faculty (11 comments); and students being treated in an unprofessional manner by staff (other than faculty, 8 comments).
Conclusion: This article details an ED’s efforts to improve its EM clerkship learning environment by tracking mistreatment data and intentionally communicating the results to educators and clerkship leadership. Continued mistreatment data collection and faculty development will be necessary for these efforts to have a measurable effect on the learning environment.