The assessment was humiliating, but is it psychological harassment? 

To take appropriate steps, it’s important to distinguish between an assessment that bruises the ego and an assessment where there’s psychological harassment. Here’s a scenario: 

Brian, an R1, had a difficult rotation. The staff physicians made several negative comments to him on the quality of his work, and this irritated him on more than one occasion. “Why’re they always on my case?” At the end of the rotation, Dr Wise, the program director, met him and gave him an assessment sheet on which there were several notations stating that Brian hadn’t achieved the rotation objectives. The final rotation assessment was “Fail.” The program director explained to Brian, calmly and objectively, the context of each element of the assessment, with specific examples showing why he hadn’t achieved the rotation objectives, and what he can do differently in future in order to improve. Brian left the meeting feeling humiliated, he’d never had a Fail before, and feels he was incorrectly assessed.

Was Brian the victim of psychological harassment?

No. This is a case of exercising staff physicians’ management and supervision rights for evaluating resident doctors’ performance. 

Doesn’t Brian have any recourse, then? 

No. If he has serious grounds for believing he has been incorrectly assessed or has not been given a genuine chance to show what he can do, he can contest the failed rotation with his university. That being said, there is nothing at all objectionable in the attitude of program director, Dr Wise. If, however, she had presented the evaluation while insulting the resident doctor, yelling, giving no examples to explain why he hadn’t achieved the rotation objectives, then it would’ve been necessary to consider whether there was a violation of his dignity, and thus whether this was a case of psychological harassment.

In light of what you’ve just read, do you feel you’re the victim of psychological harassment? 

Yes 

No 

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