Learner Mistreatment Help

“Mistreatment” refers to disrespectful or unprofessional behaviour including demeaning, offensive, or belittling comments; abusive language; and bullying, harassment, or discrimination.

Not only does mistreatment harm individuals, but negatively impacts the overall learning & research environment. The Faculty of Medicine Dean’s Task Force on Respectful Environments makes it clear that we cannot fulfil our vision and potential unless all community members – including trainees – feel valued, safe, and respected.

To make it easier for grad students to report mistreatment, the Faculty of Medicine’s Office of Professionalism and Respectful Environments now offers an online reporting portal, including options for anonymous reporting. Grad students and postdocs can also contact a Professionalism Advisor directly for a confidential discussion of what you have experienced or seen. The Learner Mistreatment Help website includes clarification of your options for reporting mistreatment, and what to expect in the process. It also addresses many Frequently Asked Questions and concerns, such as “I don’t know if I should contact someone because I don’t want to waste anyone’s time” or “Will I cause trouble for myself if I report a concern?

Why should I talk to someone if I’ve experienced mistreatment?

“Mistreatment can affect you emotionally and physically. You have either had an experience that is new to you or that has triggered a response based on past experiences. You are likely confused and upset.


Talking to someone allows you to get the support you need and can help you to understand what has happened. You can get information on how to handle the situation or how to handle a similar situation in the future. A faculty member or the Professionalism Office can discuss your options and help you choose the next steps you wish to take.”



Universities are increasingly “aware that mistreatment often goes unreported, either because learners fear reprisal, anticipate there will not be a meaningful response to their concerns, or because they do not know how or when to report or what to expect once a report is made.” Roslyn Goldner, the newly appointed Director of UBC Faculty of Medicine’s Office of Professionalism and Respectful Environments, has committed to ensuring “everyone feels supported to come forward to report inappropriate behaviour,” ultimately building a culture of mutual respect and active caring about each other’s experience. Read about Roslyn Goldner’s plans and hopes for shifting our organizational culture here.

Feeling safe, respected, and valued are central to wellbeing. If you are experiencing abuse, manipulation, bullying, or discrimination, please don’t stay silent. You are not alone. If contacting the Office of Professionalism doesn’t feel like the best route for you, there are other options and resources available:

  • All trainees (grad students and postdocs) can directly contact any of the individuals listed here, including the Associate Dean of Graduate & Postdoctoral Education, Dr. Michael Hunt.
  • Grad students can reach out to their graduate program director or program advisor – contact information can be found here.
  • Grad students can contact the UBC Office of the Ombudsperson for Students (see “How We Can Help“).
  • Grad students can contact the Graduate Student Society (advocacy@gss.ubc.ca); postdocs can reach out to the UBC Postdoctoral Association. Many grad programs and sites also have student/trainee associations that can support and advise trainees.
  • All trainees can reach out to me (Karen Ross – Grad & Postdoc Wellbeing Support Coordinator) for a confidential Virtual Coffee Chat to discuss resources.
  • All UBC-affiliated trainees have access to confidential emotional support and coaching: grad students through Counselling Services and/or UBC Student Assistance Program, and UBC-employed postdocs through their EFAP and/or extended health benefits. If you’re not sure what services are available to you, feel free to contact karen.ross@ubc.ca and I can help find answers.