Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
MD Program

Standards of Professionalism & Student Conduct, Including Mandatory Reporting

Effective January 1, 2020
Revised January 1, 2023

Purpose: Detailing expectations for student’s professional behavior or conduct (aka professionalism), and to provide references to applicable policies and guidelines related to professionalism at the University of Pennsylvania and the Perelman School of Medicine (PSOM).

Scope: Applies to undergraduate medical education students enrolled at PSOM and for students who remain enrolled but are on a leave of absence and/or studying in another program. The policy applies to activities in or out of curricular confines, on social media, and on or off campus that may impact the school and/or the precepts of physicianship.


Students must behave with paramount concern for patients' welfare and show respect for the rights of patients. In addition, they must adhere to the highest standards of intellectual integrity and honesty in their interactions with patients, faculty, interprofessional team members, peers, and administrators.

Students are expected to adhere to all standards of the University of Pennsylvania and PSOM, including, but not limited to, the University’s Code of Student of Conduct and Code of Academic Integrity; PSOM’s Academic Honor Code, which describes the rights and responsibilities of students; and Penn Medicine’s R.I.S.E Code of Conduct.

Professional conduct includes, but is not limited to:

  • Adherence to appropriate standards of behavior (demeanor, use of language, appearance, and timely response) with patients, students, faculty, colleagues, staff, and all individuals encountered during a student’s tenure at PSOM.
  • Adherence to appropriate standards of confidentiality and privacy with respect to information about patients, the electronic health record (EHR), and adherence to HIPAA guidelines.
  • Treatment of patients and their families with dignity and respect, both in their presence and in discussions with other members of the healthcare team.
  • Appropriate introduction of medical student role when interacting with patients, their families, and healthcare team members.
  • Honesty in interactions with clinical and research colleagues and in recordkeeping.
  • Respect for the limits of responsibility and activity set forth by supervisors.
  • Adherence to all hospital policies related to drug and alcohol use and misuse.
  • Adherence to all University and PSOM policies and guidelines related to social media use.

Allegations of unprofessional behavior by students will be investigated in accordance with the Academic Review of Professionalism at PSOM.

Mandatory Reporting

Because patient safety is a priority and privilege, any student, whether enrolled full-time, or on/returning from a short-term break or leave of absence, who incurs a DUI or who is arrested for any reason (including behavioral, drug, or other) must notify the Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Wellness within 48 hours in order to assess any impact on the student’s well-being, the learning environment, and/or patient care. Students’ civil rights will be respected and, until the matter is adjudicated, students have the option to take or extend a leave of absence until the matter is resolved, with referral to the Student Standards Committee (SSC) upon re-entry. If the matter is resolved as unfounded outside of PSOM, no referral to SSC will be made.

Should a student wish to continue in school while the matter is under external review, in order to determine any impact on patient safety and in consultation with the Senior Vice Dean for Medical Education, further evaluation may be required to maintain active student status, and may include a behavioral health evaluation, referral to the Physicians Health Program (PHP), review by SSC, and/or, if there is a perceived or actual impact on patient care, could result in administrative or involuntary leave.

Failure to report may result in a disciplinary action. Academic and professionalism issues related to dual degree students, including those in any Masters and Certificates program, in OMFS, and MD/PhD programs will also be reported to the office of conduct or student review in the student’s other program.