Committee on the Learning Environment (CLE)

The GW SMHS is committed to a culture of safety and respect. We have a zero tolerance for mistreatment. Given the high pressure demands of medicine and the diverse community that we work with, it is sometimes difficult to determine what exactly qualifies as mistreatment. This website is meant to help you determine if you have been mistreated and what resources are available to you. Reporting mistreatment does not have to result in lengthy hearings, possible retaliation, or disciplinary action. Rather, our goal is to use information brought to us to improve the day-to-day practices of our excellent team of students, residents, attending physicians and staff. There are several channels available to you, both formal and informal. The more specific information you can provide, the more we can help identify and address the challenge. Thank you for being a part of our community.

What is the Committee on the Learning Environment (CLE)?

A group of faculty, residents, and students who advises the Director of the Office of Professional and Respectful Learning and provides oversight of the learning environment for all members of the at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences community.

How does the CLE provide oversight?
  • Review student, resident and faculty reports about the GW SMHS learning environment.
  • Review and evaluate anonymous reports of student, resident and faculty mistreatment.
  • Initiate systems improvements to improve the learning environment at SMHS
Who are the members of the CLE?

Voting members
Khalil Diab, MD
Tenagne Haile-Mariam, MD
Mountasser Kadrie PhD, MHA
Maria Lauer PhD- CNMC
Laura Green, MD- RMC
Ryan Antar (MS3)
Sofia Barajas (MS3)
Allison Andrews (MS3)
Mansour Dehan (MS4)
Jocelyn Fant (MS4)                                                                                                                                                               Cameron Robins (MS3)
Elizabeth Okundaye (MS4)                                                                                                                                                      
Mariam Salama (MS4)                                                                    
Zoon Tariq (Pathology)                                                                                                                                                           Eileen Deming (PA Student) 
Anna Chamby (OBGYN) 
Salem I. Noureldine, MD                                                                                                                                                         Sarah Azari (MS3)

Ex-Officio (Non-voting)
Susanne Bathgate, MD
Ashte Collins, MD
Harold Frazier, MD
Yolanda Haywood, MD
Debra (DeeDee) Herrmann, DHSc, MPH, PA
Sue Okun, JD MEd
Ray Pla, MD
Lisa Schwartz MS, MEd
Alan Wasserman, MD

The definition of mistreatment?

SMHS has defined mistreatment as behavior that shows disrespect for learners and unreasonably interferes with their respective learning process. Such behavior may be verbal (swearing, humiliation), emotional (neglect, a hostile environment), or physical (threats, physical harm). When assessing behavior that might represent mistreatment, learners are expected to consider the conditions, circumstances, and environment surrounding such behavior. Medical training is a rigorous process where the welfare of the patient is the primary focus that, in turn, may appropriately impact behavior in the training setting.

What is not mistreatment?
  • Critique of students’ performance in a non-derogatory manner.
  • Physician, residents, or other medical staffing asking you in a non-derogatory manner not to do something that you may not be adequately trained for.
  • Being removed from a situation (e.g. surgery, procedure, exam) as a result of a lack of preparation that was was expected or because the patient feels uncomfortable with you in the room (e.g. male student with a female patient during an OB/GYN appointment).
  • Physician or medical staffing not speaking to you or answering questions during critical periods in patient care (e.g. surgery, procedures, codes).
  • Being asked to help with patient care in seemingly unconventional ways (e.g. calling for lab results, obtaining outside medical records, obtaining supplies for a procedure/surgery) as long as it is not meant as punishment or retaliatory in nature.
Review specific examples of mistreatment.
  • Harmful, injurious, or offensive conduct;
  • Verbal attacks;
  • Insults or unjustifiably harsh language in speaking to or about a person;
  • Public belittling or humiliation;
  • Microaggressions based on any personal identifying characteristics;
  • Physical attacks (e.g., hitting, slapping, or kicking a person);
  • Requiring performance of personal services (e.g., shopping, babysitting);
  • Intentional neglect or lack of communication (e.g., neglect in a rotation of students with interests in a different field of medicine);
  • Disregard for learner safety;
  • Denigrating comments about a learner’s field of choice;
  • Assigning tasks for punishment rather than for objective evaluation of performance;
  • Exclusion of a learner from any usual and reasonable expected educational opportunity for any reason other than as a reasonable response to that learner’s performance or merit;
  • Other behaviors which are contrary to the spirit of learning and/or violate the trust between the teacher and learner.
  • Any of the above between two students, residents, staff, or faculty.
For Students: How do I report time sensitive or patient safety issues?

The best way to report these issues is your direct supervisor on your clerkship, residency, or course. This may be your resident, chief resident, attending, or faculty member. You may also report using the OPRL website.

For Residents: How do I report time sensitive or patient safety issues?

The best way to report these issues is your direct supervisor on your clerkship, residency, or course. This may be your resident, chief resident, attending, or faculty member. You may also report using the OPRL website.

How do I report sexual harassment?

Sexual Harassment is handled by the Title IX office. Access contact information.

How do I report mistreatment? (non-sexual)

If you believe you have been a victim of mistreatment or have witnessed mistreatment, please report this to the Office of Professional and Respectful Learning.

How do I make a report anonymously?

We understand that not everyone feels comfortable reporting with their name or contact information. If that is the case, we still want to hear about anything you have to report. However, if reporting does occur anonymously, it limits our abilities to gather additional or clarifying information and follow-up with the individual reporting. You are always welcome to contact any of the ombudsperson for a consultation, where your identity will remain confidential unless you wish to have it known or you wish to pursue action that requires you to reveal your identity.

Who do I contact for consultation?

A learner who believes he/she has been mistreated or has witnessed mistreatment may discuss the matter with the person who has engaged in the behavior or with his/her department chair, the course or clerkship director, the residency director, a member of the decanal staff, the relevant staff supervisor, or the Ombudsperson who shall be consulted, when appropriate, by any of the foregoing persons.

To submit a report about mistreatment, please use the OPRL website.

If I speak to an ombudperson or peer CLE representative will it be documented and formally put my name on a possible complaint? No, if you contact an ombudsperson or peer CLE representative they will help provide you guidance and options for what you would like to do. This is a strictly confidential matter in which they will not put your name to a complaint unless you wish to report the event yourself to the OPRL.

What is the contact information for those involved in consultation?

Chair of the CLE:

Jennifer Keller, MD MPH
jkeller@mfa.gwu.edu

Ombudspeople (MD Students):

Susanne Bathgate, MD
sbathgate@mfa.gwu.edu

Ashte' Collins, MD
acollins@mfa.gwu.edu

Lisa Schwartz, EdD, MS
lschwartz@gwu.edu

Alan Wasserman, MD
awasserman@mfa.gwu.edu

Ombudspeople (Health Sciences Students):

Susan Okun, PhD
sjo@email.gwu.edu

MS4 CLE Reps:

Jennifer Dally: 317-850-6150 jsdally@gwmail.gwu.edu
Nina Afsar: nafsar@gwu.edu
Shane Dong: 646-667-7449 shengd@gwmail.gwu.edu

MS3 CLE Reps

Mansour Dehan: dehan@gwu.edu

Jocelyn Fant: 518-727-4466  jocelnyfant@gwmail.gwu.edu

Elizabeth Okundaye:  eokundaye@gwu.edu

Miriam Salama: 507-271-4437  marsalama@gwmail.gwu.edu

PA-S CLE Reps:

Shyla Russell:  srussell0@gwmail.gwu.edu

Is there a statute of limitations?

No, but details of situations and events that arise to the level of mistreatment can be forgotten over time by the reporter and possible witnesses. Please keep this in mind when waiting to report mistreatment

What happens when I report mistreatment?

The process for responding to a report of mistreatment is outlined on the OPRL website

I am worried about retaliation for reporting.

Retaliation against a person who reports, complains of, or provides information in a mistreatment investigation or proceeding is prohibited. Alleged retaliation may be subject to investigation and may result in disciplinary action.

What happens if someone files a false report?

A person who knowingly makes false allegations of mistreatment or who knowingly provides false information in a mistreatment investigation or proceeding may be subject to disciplinary action.

How do I report unsatisfactory treatment not rising to the level of mistreatment?

There are several way to give feedback. One is through endof-course evaluations. These are read by the CLE and by the clerkship director. When putting information try to be as detailed as you feel comfortable being. This helps us know where, who, and what is the problem. I still am unsure of what I want to do.

That is what the ombudspeople are for! We are not a separate entity of reporting but we can help you decide which route is best for you. Ultimately it is your decision on what pathway you wish to take. If you contact your ombudsman there will be no official record of it and it will not be automatically reported. They are strictly for informational and guidance purposes.

What mental health resources are available to help cope with mistreatment?

The university offers many services to all its students and medical staff.

For Medical Students

Counselor-on-Call: There is a CONFIDENTIAL counselor-on-call from Colonial Health 24/7. You can reach the counselor by calling the center at 202-994-5300 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. Learn more about GW Counseling and Psychological Services