COM121 Professionalism – COM Medical Education

No./Title: COM121/Professionalism

Resp. Office: Medical Education

Approval Body: CUME

Effective Date: 6/28/21

Category: COM/UME

Last Review: N/A

Next Review: 6/28/24

Contact: Michael Whitt, Ph.D.

Assoc. Dean for Medical Education

🕿 901-448-4634


Related Policy: N/A

Program: Medicine (M.D.)


It is the policy of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) College of Medicine (COM) to foster the development of professional behavior in students, and to have procedures in place to monitor and report progress in this regard.


  1. As students in a healthcare professional school, medical students have the responsibility to behave in a manner consistent with this status, and are expected to adhere to the standards of personal diligence and integrity applicable to their future profession. These are embodied in the Hippocratic Oath, the Tennessee State Medical Board standards of professionalism, the Rules of Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners (Chapter 0880-02), the Principles of Medical Ethics, the AMA professionalism standards (JAMA, AMA Journal of Ethics, AMA Professionalism in the Use of Social Media – Ethics Opinion 2.3.2, etc.), the UTHSC Catalog topic “Professionalism” and guidelines for Professional Behavior and Conduct – Clerkships. Additional guidelines, both general and specific, are provided in Appendix 1, as well as in the materials on professionalism presented at orientation, in class, and conveyed while on clinical training.
  2. Feedback regarding professionalism, both positive and negative, will be assessed by a Professionalism Committee (PC) consisting of a Chair and one faculty member representing each class. In addition, the PC will include one M3 and one M4 student selected by their peers to serve on the committee. However, if the student under investigation elects not to have student representatives present, they may request that students be excluded from the proceedings.
  3. Information concerning professionalism is collected and reported to the PC using a designated form (example shown in Appendix 2). Faculty, residents, staff and students themselves can report professionalism concerns.
    1. For professionalism issues identified during academic work, faculty and residents must identify themselves when submitting a Professionalism form. In addition, faculty and residents must document this behavior in the student’s clinical evaluation as well.
    2. Staff and students may either submit a form or report anonymously via Maxient, which is the system used by the UTHSC Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards to manage student behavioral records.
    3. Professionalism representatives from each class may also submit a form.
    4. Forms may be submitted directly to a PC member or Chair, or to the Associate Dean of Student Affairs who will forward them to the PC. Anonymous submission via Maxient is emailed to the Associate Dean.
    5. All reports, whether submitted by form or anonymously, will be housed in Maxient.
    6. Documentation of exemplary positive behavior will be retained for evaluation by the Associate Dean of Student Affairs for inclusion in the Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE) under the Pofessionalism section. The submitted forms will be stored in Maxient. Note that positive Professionalism forms cannot be submitted anonymously.
  4. Upon receipt of a negative professionalism form the actions of the PC will proceed as follows:
    1. The PC Chair will review the complaint, after which the Chair or a member of the PC will interview the student. If the complaint occurs during a course or in a clerkship, the chair will contact the course or clerkship director to discuss the situation.
    2. If no action is deemed necessary the form will be stored in Maxient. It will not impact the student’s MSPE unless a subsequent professionalism complaint were to be registered.
    3. If the concern is determined to warrant action:
      1. OME will be notified any time a student is brought before the PC, then notified of the proceedings, then of the recommendations.
      2. The chair will convene the PC to consider four recommendations: no action, warning, remediation, or referral to the appropriate Progress and Promotions (P&P) committee. Repeated complaints with no evidence of improvement, or even a single sufficiently serious complaint, could trigger referral to the COM P&P committee, which may result in further actions including course failure, academic warning, probation or dismissal.
    4. The findings of the PC will be forwarded within 5 days of its meeting to the student and to the Associate Dean of Student Affairs.
    5. In case of an adverse recommendation by the PC, excluding the recommendation of referral to the P&P committee, the student has a right to appeal the decision. If the recommendation is for transfer to the P&P, no appeal of the PC recommendation is possible. The student will have 5 business days to appeal the PC’s recommendation. Appeals should be submitted in writing (via email) to the Associate Dean of Student Affairs. If the Assoc. Dean of Student Affairs concurs in the adverse recommendation, the student may appeal to the Executive Dean of the COM within 5 business days of notification from the Assoc. Dean of Student Affairs of concurance with the PC recommendation.
    6. If an appeal is not submitted within 5 business days the Associate Dean of Student Affairs will submit the recommendation to the Executive Dean and also to the Sr. Asst. Deans of the Basic Science and/or Clinical Curriculum who will forward the information to relevant course and/or clerkship directors.


Effective: 6/28/21

Revised: N/A