Professional Code Committee

The Professional Code Committee (PCC) is a standing student-faculty committee of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine charged with enhancing and advancing the professional behavior of medical students. The PCC makes recommendations to the dean of the College of Medicine and the Student Progress and Promotions Committee (SPPC) regarding medical student professionalism. The dean of the College of Medicine has final authority on all matters of student professionalism.

The specific duties of the PCC are as follows:

  • Develop recommendations on matters related to student conduct and discipline;
  • Review instances of substandard medical student professional behavior;
  • Develop a remediation plan in collaboration with the SPPC for any student with deficiencies in meeting professional standards;
  • Regularly review and update the UK College of Medicine Professional Code;
  • Regularly review the professionalism of the learning environment;
  • Assist the Office of Medical Education in programs to promote professionalism;
  • Make recommendations to the dean that would enhance the learning environment.

Membership

  • Ashley “Ashbo” Boerrigter, M4, chair
  • Rachel (Linkous) Rannefors, M4
  • Jenny Tan, M4
  • Ash Mehra, M4
  • Zeeshan Akhtar, M3
  • Nicki Frost, M3
  • Haley Wehder, M3, vice–chair
  • Weston Dicken, M2
  • Tenley McKee, M2
  • Katie Twist, MD, Internal Medicine
  • Paul Murphy, MD, Pathology
  • Bill Stoops, PhD, Behavioral Science
  • Chris Feddock, MD, ex-officio administrator

The PCC is composed of 10 medical students, four faculty members, and one administrator. The medical student membership consists of one M1 student, two M2 students, three M3 students, and four M4 students, who are selected from their respective classes. The M1 representative is selected from the class in January. One additional committee member will be selected from each class in the spring of each academic year. A call for applications will be emailed out by the Student Affairs Office. Students wishing to be considered for PCC membership will submit a brief platform. Each application will be reviewed by the Office of Medical Education and the SPPC. Students with prior or current academic or professionalism concerns will be removed from consideration and notified of this decision. The final list of candidates will then be made available via an online voting platform, so each class may select a PCC representative.

Onboarding will include provision of relevant documents (e.g. “Procedures of the PCC”) by the chair and participating, starting with the first meeting after election. Once elected, students will remain on the PCC until graduation unless the student resigns or is removed from the committee by a majority vote of PCC members. If there is an opening due to a student not remaining with their class, the class will elect the necessary members. The dean of the College of Medicine appoints faculty members for staggered 3-year terms. A faculty member may serve up to two consecutive terms on the PCC, and once sitting out one year, is eligible for reappointment. The senior associate dean for medical student education will serve as the administrative member.

Each year, by majority vote, the PCC will elect a third-year student to serve as vice-chair of the committee. That individual will then serve as chair during the subsequent year. A special election will be held if the chair or vice-chair can no longer complete his or her duties.

Operating Procedures

The PCC meets regularly throughout each academic year to review the learning environment and address any lapses in professionalism brought to the subcommittee. The SPPC or any faculty, staff, or student member of the UK College of Medicine academic community may refer lapses in medical student professional behavior to the PCC. At times, these complaints and concerns may include specifics about one or more named students; at other times, they will not. The PCC will address complaints and concerns that are not specific to any individual(s) as general issues within the learning environment or some portion of that learning environment. 

The subcommittee administrator is the senior associate dean for medical student education. He or she will review each case submitted to the PCC with the appropriate representative: an SPPC representative if a case regarding an egregious event inappropriate for PCC; the PCC chair if a medical student case or issue appropriate for PCC; a GME representative if a case or issue involving a resident; the appropriate department chair if a case or issue involving faculty or staff. Certain events mandate action by the SPPC, including, but not limited to the following:

  • Assertions of sexual or physical boundary violations;
  • Assertions of mistreatment;
  • Assertions of retaliation against someone who submitted a concern in good faith.

All submissions will be accounted for by listing the representative with whom each case or issue was discussed without including the details of cases or issues not addressed by the PCC. This list will be presented to the PCC at each month’s meeting. If a case is more appropriate to another university mechanism the PCC is encouraged, but not required, to refer the specific case to that mechanism. This does not preclude the PCC from considering the broader issue raised by the case. Ad hoc meetings may be required to address urgent events requiring an evaluation. The goal of PCC deliberations is to develop a plan to assist the individual(s) involved in the case to recognize their behaviors and maintain professional conduct in the future. 

Cases will generally be addressed as follows (see Addendum for pictorial representation and sample conversations):

  • Single, non-egregious events – informal conversation between a PCC member and the involved student;
  • Single, egregious event – PCC meeting with the student to bring awareness to the behavior;
  • Recurrent, non-egregious event – PCC meeting with the student to bring awareness to the behavior;
  • Recurrent, egregious events – referral to SPPC.

Before discussing any cases at a meeting, the chair of the committee will ask members for any conflicts of interest. Members should self-identify any conflicts of interest, recuse themselves from the discussion, and leave the room prior to discussion of any relevant case.

There is no appeal process for student cases addressed by PCC, because students are not required to comply with PCC recommendations. There is a formalized appeal process for SPPC decisions that students may pursue with the assistance of the senior associate dean for medical student education.

Confidentiality

All PCC members are bound by strict confidentiality regarding all professionalism reports. Identification of any individuals, discussions, or interventions to an individual not on the PCC is strictly prohibited. Violations of confidentiality will result in removal of the offending member from the PCC.