In today’s often complex and fast-moving world of health care, it’s critical to ensure that needs among various stakeholders are being met. Patients should be getting the care they need. Caregivers should have the tools they need to provide quality care. And medical students and residents should be immersed in a learning environment that fosters balanced and thorough professional training.

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine has established a committee to advocate healthy learning environments in classrooms and at the educational and clinical sites where students receive hands-on training. The Learning Environment Advocacy Committee is charged with promoting an environment that best supports student education, an environment where they can fully engage in learning.

“This committee is charged with promoting a learning environment that nurtures our students,” said Dr. Cynda Johnson, dean of the school. “This, in turn, allows our students to go out into the world with the knowledge and professionalism they need to provide patients with the best quality care possible.”

The committee is charged with addressing any complaints of mistreatment of students, as well as other factors that may influence the learning environment. In addition, the committee will work with students, faculty, residents, and staff to raise awareness about mistreatment and to enhance the learning environment. Mistreatment includes behaviors such as using menacing or abusive language, making offensive sexist or racist remarks, or threatening with physical harm.

Reports of mistreatment may be made to any committee member directly. Students may also file complaints anonymously using Blackboard, the school’s secure learning portal. In addition to investigating complaints, the committee will serve as a sounding board for students unsure of the seriousness of their complaints and may counsel a student should a similar situation occur again. Reports to the committee are handled confidentially except in cases where there might be a violation of law.

To learn more about the committee, the process for reporting and evaluating allegations of mistreatment, and specific examples of what constitutes mistreatment, visit the Learning Environment page.

Written by Catherine Doss