Code of Professional Conduct

University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine

two doctors talking

Standard of conduct

The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine is committed to an environment of mutual respect. All members of the medical school community are expected to maintain a positive learning environment in which students, faculty, staff and residents treat each other with respect. Members of the community, including institutional leaders, will not tolerate harassment, intimidation, exploitation and/or abuse.

Purpose of policy

This policy is intended to define inappropriate conduct in relationships with students. It also describes the mechanism through which medical students can report violations without fear of retaliation. This policy ensures access to educational programs that prohibit student mistreatment. For the purposes of this policy, community is defined as all sites where University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine students receive training.

Promoting a Positive Learning Environment

The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine provides ongoing educational and developmental opportunities to promote a positive learning environment respectful of all individuals. The policy will be included in both student and resident handbooks, and will be posted on the medical school website. The topic will be addressed annually throughout medical school.

  • Residents: The policy will be included in the resident handbook, and will be addressed at resident physician orientation sessions.
  • Faculty: The policy will be distributed electronically by the Dean to all faculty members, including adjunct and volunteer faculty. The message will include resources for identification and prevention of mistreatment and abuse, as well as instructions to report suspected actions and resources for resolution of alleged occurrences.
  • Nursing and Other Clinical/Support Staff: A letter will be sent from the Dean to the Chief Executive Officer at affiliated institutions requesting distribution of the policy to all staff interacting with medical school students. Resources will be available for presentations on the topic to various groups at the training sites.

A website is available for reference by students, residents, staff and faculty The policy will also be attached to affiliation agreements with all community partners.

Mistreatment of students may occur in many forms and can seriously impair the educational experience. Types of mistreatment include verbal, hierarchical/power, ethnic or cultural, physical, discrimination, and sexual harassment.

Specific examples of mistreatment include but are not limited to:

  • Yelling at and/or verbally berating a student in public or private
  • Actions that can reasonably be interpreted as demeaning or humiliating (harsh criticism can be very appropriate in a life and death situation)
  • Assigning duties as a means of punishing students instead of for educational benefits
  • Unwarranted exclusion from learning opportunities
  • Threats to fail, assign a lower grade or give a poor evaluation for inappropriate reasons
  • Requesting that students complete personal chores or errands
  • Unwelcome sexual comments, jokes, innuendo or taunting remarks about a student's physical appearance, age, gender, ethnicity or culture, sexual orientation/identity or marital status
  • Intentional physical contact such as pushing, shoving, slapping, hitting, tripping, throwing objects or aggressive violation of personal space

Procedure for Resolution

Please note that all complaints of sexual harassment and/or discrimination will be referred to Office of Affirmative Action on the University of Nevada, Reno campus.

Informal Resolution

Students are encouraged to first utilize any of the informal mechanisms listed below when possible.

  • Direct discussion between student and alleged offender
  • Discussion with course or clerkship coordinator, Associate Dean for Medical Education, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs or the Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs
  • Discussion with either Assistant to the Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs (Jodi Shpargel, (775) 682-8361) on the Reno campus or the Director of Recruitment and Student Services (Ann Diggins, (702) 671-2202) on the Las Vegas campus.
  • Fully utilize the resident and faculty evaluation process.

Formal Resolution

When the informal mechanisms mentioned above do not lead to resolution of the incident or behavior, the following protocol will be followed:


Retaliation against students reporting mistreatment is regarded as a form of mistreatment and will not be tolerated. Accusations that retaliation has occurred will be handled in the same manner as accusations concerning other forms of mistreatment.

Malicious Accusations

A complainant or witness found to have been dishonest or malicious in making the allegations or at any point during the investigation may be subject to disciplinary action.

Campus Resources

The following campus resources may be helpful sources of information or support in dealing with mistreatment or abuse issues:

  • Clerkship Coordinators

Office of Admissions and Student Affairs, School of Medicine

  • Main: (775) 784-6063
  • Ann Diggins-Las Vegas: (702) 671-2202
  • Jodi Shpargel - Reno (775) 682-8360

Office of Medical Education, School of Medicine, Reno

  • Amy McFarland (775) 784-4605

Office of Academic Affairs, School of Medicine, Las Vegas

  • Deborah Kuhls, M.D. (702) 671-2315

Office of Compliance, School of Medicine, Las Vegas

  • J.A. Epperson (702) 916-3709

University Counseling Services, University of Nevada, Reno

  • (775) 784-4648

Center for Student Cultural Diversity

  • (775) 784-4936

Disability Resource Center

  • (775) 784-6000

Office of Affirmative Action

  • (775) 784-1547