Tolerance of bullying and harassment at Memorial’s Faculty of Medicine


The Unit Assessment report of Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine was completed on May 1st 2018 and released by the Faculty on July 16th 2018 (1). Dr Sandra LeFort’s report was generous in recognising some strengths in the environments and cultures of the Faculty. The report also identified significant failings in the Faculty due to bullying and harassment, and other negative behaviours including intimidation, leading to the mistreatment of learners, staff, and faculty.

The LeFort report recognised that the Faculty of Medicine have developed environments and cultures of tolerance towards these negative behaviours. Many of these failings of behaviours and tolerance have been identified by me (2,3,4,5) and others (6,7).

In my opinion, the LeFort report is an accurate description of the situation in the Faculty with the issue of tolerance being most egregious and the 39 recommendations are both necessary and appropriate.

Dr Margaret Steele, dean of medicine, has responded to the report (8) by saying the Faculty take the recommendations “very seriously”. However she has not committed the Faculty to implementing all the recommendations which is a cause for concern.

It is also a cause for concern that the LeFort report was released close to the main period for taking vacations in the Faculty. Fortunately the Canadian press have covered the report in depth (10,11) which makes it less likely the Faculty will be able to brush it aside and thereby continue to condone the negative behaviours.

Once again (12) it seems the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial are at a cross-roads: will they take the progressive route and implement all of the LeFort report’s recommendations?

Will they take the regressive route from the cross-roads and continue to tolerate the negative behaviours?
















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About Iain Robbe

I am a medical practitioner (MB, BS, 1980; MRCS, LRCP, 1980) registered with the General Medical Council of the United Kingdom. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic I have reactivated my licence to practise and I am providing telephone support to vulnerable elderly to assist them during the pandemic. I remain active as a Clinical Medical Educationist participating in a number of projects with the universities of St Mary’s and Dalhousie in Nova Scotia and Mount Allison in New Brunswick, inter alia, and separately with three of the veterinary schools in the UK. My focus is on teaching and research in professionalism, ethics, and communications, and particularly the influences of vernacular architecture on the creation of positive learning experiences in undergraduate and postgraduate medical education. I have the degree of Master in Public Health from the University of London (1985) and the degree of Master in Medical Education with distinction from the University of Wales (2001). The guiding principles in my practices are based on andragogy and humanism, and the prime ethical principle of autonomy for the individual and in population health.

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