Undergraduate Medical Education

Learning Environment

Sidney Kimmel Medical College values all learners and educators and promotes a learning environment where they feel supported, challenged, valued and respected. Our mission is to enhance and to continue improve upon all the elements that contribute to an outstanding learning environment at Jefferson and partnering with all our affiliates. Experience and research have taught that each learner and teacher has the power to contribute in a meaningful way to a positive learning environment and, conversely, that anyone can also damage or negatively impact that environment. And with that power comes the ability to create and sustain a positive learning environments.

Jefferson offers opportunities to recognize excellence and to report concerns. You can be a part of making the Jefferson learning environment the best it can be! Below you will find easy reporting links for teaching excellence and any concerns with student mistreatment. There is zero tolerance for student mistreatment and any concerns can be addressed through this form. Respectful feedback allows each of us to thrive in a respectful culture.

Celebrating Exceptional Teaching - Moments that Make a Difference

Jefferson recognizes several educators each month with the Outstanding Teaching recognition which highlights these valued and dedicated faculty.

Students: tell us about a faculty member, resident, nurse or other provider whose teaching made a positive difference in your education.  What or how did they teach that was impactful and influenced you in a powerful way?

To nominate an educator please email our Director of Academic Success and the Learning Experience, Julianna Despinos, Esq.

How Do I Voice Learning Environment Concerns or Ideas?

Julianna Despinos, Esq. is the Director of Academic Success and the Learning Experience and she holds an open door policy to students and faculty. The learning environment is a dynamic space and is constantly changing to improve for all learners and educators. Ideas and improvements create opportunities; Ms. Despinos is available by email or in person for conversations to explore and develop ideas and address concerns.

Quick Tools for Handling & Responding to Inappropriate Comments in the Clinical Environment

Inappropriate Happens

By Patients & Visitors

Inappropriate remarks by patients and their visitors can happen in the clinical environment. It is important to address them in real time. To fail to address them in the moment gives tacit permission to whoever said them and does not support learners.

By Faculty, Staff, & Students

Faculty and staff may also make inappropriate comments that may be questionable or, at times, objectionable. Students are encouraged to address or query these comments, if appropriate, when they are made. If the comments cannot be addressed directly, students should reach out for support and next steps through the Jefferson Reporting website or to the Director of the College Learning Environment.

Uncomfortable Happens

Inappropriate remarks by patients and their visitors impact both learners and providers alike and creates discomfort along with other reactions. It’s important to respond appropriately as well as acknowledge and process those feelings and reactions. 

  • Remain respectful and professional
  • Speak calmly and clearly to increase being heard accurately and effectively

Derogatory Comments About Race/Ethnicity/Sex

  • “We know you are here to get the best medical care possible – and we want to provide you with that care. In order for that to happen, we need to treat each other with respect.”
  • “Please do not use that type of language as it is offensive to others and not acceptable in this medical center.”
  • “Making comments like that is disrespectful, and we cannot tolerate that kind of language.”
  • “We are here to help you, but it is hard to do that when you use language like that.”
  • “That is not a word/term we use here.”

Being Asked "Where Are You From?"

  • “Why do you ask the question? It will be helpful to understand how this will help me provide you with the best medical care.”
  • “I am from (place), but let’s spend our time today focusing on your health.”

Comments About Appearance

  • “Let’s focus on facts and issues that are relevant to our ability to provide you the best quality medical care.”
  • “I know you mean well, but we are more concerned about our learners’ knowledge than their appearance.”
  • “We’re trying to help you. It is hard to do that when you make comments like that.”

Examples of Responses borrowed with permission from Penn State College of Medicine.

  • “You have the right to choose your provider, but that choice cannot be based on discriminatory reasons. You also have the right to refuse care, but understand that refusing the care from a specific provider is the same as refusing the care altogether. We do not have to provide an alternate provider in response to your request. We will consider your refusal of care by this provider as a request for discharge, which would be against our medical advice.”
  • “As an academic medical center, we are committed to providing patients with the best medical care while preparing tomorrow’s physicians to also provide this quality care. The student will not be caring for you, but merely observing or being queried about what care should be provided.”
  • “As an academic medical center, we are committed to providing patients with the best medical care while preparing tomorrow’s physicians to also provide this quality care. The student will be closely supervised and will be under the direction of a physician.”

It is important to recognize and process when inappropriate remarks are made as they are typically very uncomfortable for both learners and educators.  Inviting learners to explore how the situations was handled and could be improved upon helps everyone to understand the challenges of managing difficult situations and conversations.

  • “That was a difficult/uncomfortable. How are you feeling?
  • “I am so sorry this happened to you. I want to understand how that experience was like for you. How can I best support you? How will you feel if you continue to work with this patient?
  • When appropriate you can share your feelings and reactions after the learner has expressed their own as part of the processing of the situation.

For any concerns or questions, contact John Spandorfer MD, Roger B. Daniels Associate Dean of Professionalism in Medicine, by email or 215-503-6331.

Additional Resources