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West J Med. 1991 August; 155(2): 140–145.
PMCID: PMC1002944

Student perceptions of mistreatment and harassment during medical school. A survey of ten United States schools.


Senior students at 10 medical schools in the United States responded to a questionnaire that asked how often, if ever, they perceived themselves being mistreated or harassed during the course of their medical education. Results show that perceived mistreatment most often took the form of public humiliation (86.7%), although someone else taking credit for one's work (53.5%), being threatened with unfair grades (34.8%), and threatened with physical harm (26.4%) were also reported. Students also reported high rates of sexual harassment (55%) and pervasive negative comments about entering a career in medicine (91%). Residents and attending physicians were cited most frequently as sources of this mistreatment. With the exception of more reports of sexual harassment from women students, perceived mistreatment did not differ significantly across variables such as age, sex, religion, marital status, or having a physician parent. Scores from the 10 schools also did not vary significantly, although the presence of a larger percentage of women in the class appeared to increase overall reports of mistreatment from both sexes.

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