Code of Ethics

Medical students have entered the community of medical professionals and therefore have the responsibility to uphold the core ethical principles of physicians at all levels of practice and training. There are two basic tenets to the Code of Ethics:

First, students must be trustworthy and act with integrity in all spheres of professional life: academics, patient care, research and professional relationships. Students must be honest and worthy of the trust of teachers, patients, peers and the community. This culture of trust requires individuals to act with respect and empathy toward one another. Students are expected to behave publicly and to utilize social media in ways that uphold the respect and trust given by society to the medical profession.

Second, students must together safeguard the culture of integrity and trustworthiness by encouraging each other to act ethically and by responding appropriately to violations of the Code of Ethics. A student who witnesses an apparent violation of the Code ought to clarify and discuss the incident with the involved party whenever possible. Successful peer-to-peer resolution may require the person who violated the Code of Ethics to self-disclose that behavior to the Class Honor Court Representative, the President of the Honor Court or the Dean of Students. If the witnessing student chooses not to approach the involved party, or if the issue cannot be fully resolved on a peer-to-peer basis, then the witnessing student must report the apparent violation to one of the following: the appropriate faculty member or course director, the class Honor Court Representative, the President of the Honor Court or the Dean of Students. Should the faculty member or Dean determine that a violation had likely occurred, the issue must subsequently be reported to the President of the Honor Court. Witnessing and responding appropriately to the unprofessional or unethical behavior of a colleague is a core responsibility of physicians at all levels of training and practice. Self-disclosure of error is also a core responsibility and creates possibility for rectification. Failure of a witness to respond and report is itself a violation of the Code.

Academic Standards of Conduct
Students are expected to demonstrate trustworthiness and integrity in all academic work. Academic dishonesty is a serious offense because it is a violation of trust, diminishes the quality of scholarship, makes accurate evaluation of a student impossible and defrauds those in society who must depend on the honesty and integrity of the Profession. Academic misconduct includes, but is not limited to, lying, cheating, stealing or dishonesty in relation to any academic exercise. Students must follow instructions during examinations and neither give nor receive any aid when taking examinations unless this is explicitly allowed by the course director. Students must respect all protected instructional and testing materials distributed by instructors; they must never copy or disseminate these materials, either in hard copy or digitally, without the explicit permission of the instructor. Copyright laws are to be followed. Students are expected to produce their own work without plagiarism, defined as presenting another’s work as one’s own. Violations of these standards undermine the trust placed in the student by peers and faculty, disrupts the learning environment, compromises medical training, and injures the integrity of the community. Complicity in academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, attempting to help another student violate the Code or failing to take appropriate action when witnessing a violation.

Patient Care Standards of Conduct
The guiding ethical principles of patient care include respect for patients as persons, protection of patient autonomy and elevation of patient welfare above all other concerns. These require treating all patients with compassion and dignity, assuring informed consent and shared decision-making, protecting confidentiality in speech, writing and electronic communication and navigating social and cultural differences in order to deliver the best care possible. Social justice is another guiding ethical principle that is expressed in the commitment to advocate for patients who are socially vulnerable and also to steward limited healthcare resources. Trust is the foundation of the physician-patient relationship.

Honesty in communication and documentation of the clinical record is essential to that trust. Medical records are legal documents and under no circumstances should false information be recorded, items entered of which the student has no direct knowledge or records altered.

Promoting patient welfare requires physicians to promote a culture of safety, improve quality of care and work as an effective member of the interdisciplinary medical team, bringing respect and empathy to all professional and inter-professional interactions. It also requires physicians to maintain appropriate boundaries in professional relationships and manage conflicts of interest. Patient welfare necessitates honesty and transparency when medical error occurs, and also demands appropriate response to witnessing unethical or unprofessional behavior of a faculty member, physician, other healthcare provider, or medical student.

Research Standards of Conduct
Respect for persons, protection of human subjects, social justice, scientific integrity and managing conflicts of interest are cardinal principles of medical research and these require adherence to research standards and regulations set by Drexel University.

Personal Standards of Conduct
Students are expected to behave in a manner befitting of members of the community of medical professionals endowed with the trust and respect of society. The public conduct of a medical student, including the use of social media, reflects upon that individual and also upon our academic community and the medical profession as a whole. Personal misconduct includes, but is not limited to, any violation of federal, state, local, or Drexel University rules and regulations, as well as complicity in violating those rules and regulations.


Contact Information
Steven Rosenzweig, M.D.
Director of Professionalism Curriculum