Learning about medical student mistreatment from responses to the medical school graduation questionnaire

Acad Med. 2014 May;89(5):705-11. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000199.


Although evidence of medical student mistreatment has accumulated for more than 20 years, only recently have professional organizations like the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the American Medical Association truly acknowledged it as an issue. Since 1991, the AAMC's annual Medical School Graduation Questionnaire (GQ) has included questions about mistreatment. Responses to the GQ have become the major source of evidence of the prevalence and types of mistreatment. This article reviews national mistreatment data, using responses to the GQ from 2000 through 2012; examines how students' experiences have changed over time; and highlights the implications of this information for the broader medical education system. The authors discuss what mistreatment is, including the changing definitions from the GQ; the prevalence, types, and sources of mistreatment; and evidence of students reporting incidents. In addition, they discuss next steps, including better defining mistreatment, specifically public humiliation and belittling, taking into account students' subjective evaluations; understanding and addressing the influence of institutional culture and what institutions can learn from current approaches at other institutions; and developing better systems to report and respond to reports of mistreatment. They conclude with a discussion of how mistreatment currently is conceptualized within the medical education system and the implications of that conceptualization for eradicating mistreatment in the future.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods*
  • Faculty, Medical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Male
  • Needs Assessment
  • Professional Misconduct / ethics*
  • Professional Misconduct / statistics & numerical data
  • Schools, Medical / standards
  • Schools, Medical / trends
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • United States
  • Young Adult