It may not be perfect, but the New York Times is the model of what a newspaper should be. The writers are smart and adhere to a high level of journalistic integrity. Nevertheless, it misunderstands the issue of bullying just like the rest of society. As a result, it recommended that all medical schools adopt policies scientifically proven to have failed.
The August 9th edition carried a fascinating article by Dr. Pauline Chen about the failure of anti-bullying policies in medical school. In “The Bullying Culture of Medical School,” she described the abuse senior physicians often unleash against those beneath them. The article came on the tracks of a recent scientific studyreporting the disappointing results of the intensive efforts of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA to eliminate abusive behaviour.
In 1995, the medical school began a multi-faceted program to improve the way staff treat students. As the NY Times reports:
“They adopted policies to reduce abuse and promote prevention; established a Gender and Power Abuse Committee, mandated lectures, workshops and training sessions for students, residents and faculty members; and created an office to accept confidential reports, investigate and then address allegations of mistreatment.”
What were the results of thirteen years of surveys conducted at the school?
“While there appears to have been a slight drop in the numbers of students who report experiencing mistreatment, more than half of all medical students still said that they had been intimidated or physically or verbally harassed.”
The article also reports that the results for the school were typical of medical schools in general. Joyce Fried, the lead author of the paper, said, “We were really crushed when we saw the results. We were disappointed that [the abusive school culture] was so difficult to change.” (more…)