Intimidation. Discrimination. Harassment. The students of the faculty of medicine of the University of Montreal working in a hostile environment, reveals a devastating internal report obtained by The Press. The document, prepared by the ombudsman of the University of Montreal, lifts the veil on the problems suffered by the residents in medicine.
In his report, the ombudsman Pascale Descary application to the faculty of medicine to act to “stop the practices or inappropriate attitudes of harassment or bullying occurring, sometimes recurring, and well-rooted among some members of his community, and in some circles”.
The ombudsman’s investigation following the suicide of a resident in medicine at the University of Montreal in 2011. In the summer of 2013, the family of the student has requested the ombudsman to intervene, finding that “the responsible faculty have contributed, through their approaches and their shortcomings in terms of accompaniment and support”, to the death of the young woman. Last winter, a second student of medicine of the University of Montreal has put an end to his days.
At the same time, The Press revealed that six of the nine programs of surgery of the institution had been put in suspension by the royal College of physicians and surgeons of Canada, in particular for problems of harassment.
Discrimination and lack of respect
In the interview, Mme Descary would like to clarify that “many things” are made at the faculty of medicine and the University to support the residents. “There are good practices. But there are still things to improve,” she said, while stressing that the University has worked in an exemplary manner in the inquiry.
Some residents still report “too often” evaluation “takes place in a climate of tension and lack of respect.”
The students seem to be more affected by the difficulties. Out of the 39 requests for assistance addressed to the ombudsman by residents in distress in the last 10 years, more than 67% from medical graduates from outside Canada or the United States, says the report.
These residents seem to live proportionally more difficulties than others, some expressed the feeling of being the target of derogatory comments, or even discriminatory, on the part of their evaluators and feel that they are evaluated more severely”.
A source familiar with the folder does not hesitate to say that there are outright “racism” at the faculty of medicine of the University of Montreal.
Students “not their place”
The faculty of medicine of the University of Montreal has developed an internal procedure for handling cases of harassment. However, some of the directors who have a role of listening and support with residents are called upon to assess these same residents by the suite, creating a situation of conflict of interest, note-t-to in the report.
For the vice-dean of the faculty of medicine, “the difficulties encountered by a number of residents may be explained in part by the fact that they may have not made the choice of training and career the more appropriate compared to their real interests and aptitudes”, he wrote.
In his report, the ombudsman proposes different solutions to improve the situation of residents, including their offer to change mid-stage when the situation is escalating. An option that is not allowed currently. More training should also be offered to patrons, in particular on the notion of harassment.
The vice-dean resigns
Last week, the vice-dean of medicine, the Dre Josée Dubois, has left his post. The spokesman of the University of Montreal, Mathieu Fillion, ensures that this departure is not linked to the facts reported by the ombudsman, but just at the end of its mandate.
Mr. Fillion says the report, tabled in march, has been well received and that an action plan has been adopted. Since the beginning of the summer, residents returning from an absence of disease, for example, can avail themselves of a gradual return to work. “They can do a paid internship, but not evaluated, three-month, part-time,” explains Mr. Fillion. Allow the journey to part-time was one of the recommendations of the ombudsman.
A project “well-being” will also be deployed shortly and will allow resident physicians to entrust 12 times per year to a doctor who will never be called to evaluate them afterwards.
Since Monday, it is the Dre Marie-Josée Dupuis, who held the position of vice-dean of medicine of the University of Montreal. For the past eight years, held the position of director of education and the Academy at the CHUM.