AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Journal of Ethics Header

AMA Journal of Ethics®

Illuminating the art of medicine

Virtual Mentor. March 2014, Volume 16, Number 3.

Ethics Poll

Mistreatment of Those in Training

The Ethics Poll is a snapshot of the opinions of interested readers.

In some hierarchal training environments (e.g., medical school, the military) humiliation, embarrassment, and even hazing have been used as aids to learning or training. Check each of the following statements about such learning tactics that you think are true.
Such tactics create a sense of cohesion and camaraderie among the students or recruits who are subjected to them.
Some stress and disequilibrium are beneficial in learning.
Hazing is effective in separating those who will be able to think clearly in stressful, possibly life-or-death, situations from those who will not.
The threat of embarrassment in front of one’s peers incites one to study and prepare more thoroughly.
Humiliation and embarrassment in front of one’s peers can cause psychological harm.
Those who are humiliated or put through hazing are likely to employ those tactics on others when they are in a position to do so to.
All training goals can be achieved without those methods.

Students and employees are often asked to evaluate their teachers' and supervisors' competence and behavior. Which of the following best expresses your opinion on whether these evaluations should be anonymous?
Evaluations of one’s superiors should not be anonymous; identifying evaluators by name ensures greater honesty in evaluations.
Evaluations of one’s superiors should not be anonymous because they can have promotion or termination consequences for the teacher or supervisor.
Anonymous evaluations are useless because no corrective or punitive action can be taken on the basis of an anonymous complaint.
Evaluations of one’s superiors should be anonymous because evaluators’ fear of retaliation by their superiors will prevent them from reporting abuse or incompetence.
Evaluations of one’s superiors should be anonymous because it is the only way for the institution to get valid data on problem teachers and supervisors.
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Poll results reflect the opinions of visitors to the site who voluntarily answer the poll questions. Those visitors do not represent a random sample of Virtual Mentor readers. The viewpoints expressed on this site are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the AMA.