Skip to content

Keck School of Medicine Code of Professional Behavior and Professional Behavior Expectations

Code of Professional Behavior

The students of the Keck School of Medicine of USC, in order that our activities reflect the high standards of moral character demanded by the medical profession, do subscribe to the following Code of Professional Behavior.

Honesty and Integrity

  • We will conduct ourselves with the highest degree of integrity and honesty.
  • We will truthfully conduct our research and report our research findings and will not represent others’ work or ideas as our own.
  • We will not seek, by action or implication, oral or otherwise, to create an incorrect impression of our abilities or to create an unfair advantage over our colleagues.
  • We will not tolerate or support unethical behavior in ourselves or our colleagues and will report such behavior when it occurs through established procedures as detailed in the Professional Behavior and Mistreatment Policy.

Responsibility, Reliability, and Accountability

  • We accept our professional responsibility to be punctual and to respect the time and effort of others.
  • We hold ourselves accountable to local, state and national laws relevant to learning and healthcare environments and to the policies and procedures of the school and its associated clinical sites.
  • We will respond in a timely manner to all official KSOM communication.
  • We recognize our limitations and will seek help when needed. We will not assume responsibilities beyond our capabilities.
  • We will not conduct clinical responsibilities while impaired by drugs or alcohol.
  • We will work to develop personal habits that promote social, physical, and mental health and wellness. If we recognize signs of impairment in ourselves or others, we will contact the Office of Student Affairs.
  • We will represent the Keck School of Medicine of USC appropriately in all relevant settings including all forms of electronic communication.

Respect for Others (Students, Colleagues, Faculty, Staff, Patients)

  • We will treat others with respect and honor their dignity.
  • We will acknowledge that we all have known and implicit biases and will work to mitigate the impact of biases on all interactions with students, colleagues, faculty, staff and patients.
  • We will not discriminate nor tolerate discrimination based on race, ethnicity, language, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, disease, or socioeconomic status.
  • We will respect the confidentiality of our patients at all times.
  • We recognize the importance of teamwork and will work respectfully in collaboration with others.
  • We will demonstrate respect for our patients and colleagues by maintaining an outward appearance that is appropriate for learning and patient care.

Attendance at the Keck School of Medicine of USC constitutes de facto acceptance of the CODE OF PROFESSIONAL BEHAVIOR and its concepts and its procedures.

Professional Behavior Expectations

Although all students are expected to behave professionally without supervision, these expectations have been written to elaborate upon the responsibilities of all students at the Keck School of Medicine of USC (KSOM).

Specific violations of the KSOM Code of Professional Behavior include, but are not limited to, the following examples. It is not just the letter, but also the spirit, of the Code of Professional Behavior that is to be upheld by students.

Honesty and Integrity 

  • The student must maintain the highest level of professional behavior: lying, cheating, or stealing is unacceptable.
  • The student must introduce and represent themselves as a student physician at all times. Therefore, a student will not wear a long white coat or a badge misidentifying their level of training.
  • All information reported to the team from the student must be accurate to the best of the student’s knowledge. The student must distinguish first-hand from other information when reporting on the patient’s history or physical examination. The student must report only laboratory values or test results that they have personally seen or have verified. If the student has forgotten to ask, check, or look up values relevant to the case, they are expected to report that to a senior team member.
  • The student must not falsify data in research or knowingly participate in research activities that are reporting false data.
  • The student must not give or receive aid in any standardized assessment or examination, in paper or electronic form, or with a real/standardized patient.

Responsibility, Reliability, and Accountability

  • All health care providers and students involved in clinical care are expected to attend to all patients, regardless of disease.  A failure to accept this responsibility violates a basic tenet of the medical profession: to place the patient’s interest and welfare first.
  • The student is expected to consider the professional behavior and well-being of their peers and to report concerns in those regards to the course or clerkship director or the Associate Dean for Student Affairs.
  • The student is expected to respond to all emails, calls, and other communications from the Keck School of Medicine in a timely and appropriate manner.
  • The student is expected to complete all requested course/clerkship and instructor/faculty/resident evaluations.
  • The student must be punctual for and attend all required sessions, lectures, rounds, clinics, conferences, and all clerkship, selective, and elective activities.
  • The student must be present for on call assignments and participate in all team activities.
  • The student may sign (or indicate electronically) only their name and/or signature to indicate their presence at a workshop, conference, or other activity with a sign-in sheet or required electronic sign-in or evaluation form. Signing in for another student or physician, or having another individual sign-in for them to falsely indicate their presence violates the Code of Professional Behavior.
  • A student absence from any required activities requires compliance with the absence request/notification protocol.
  • The student is expected to turn in all their assignments on time and the content must be original work completed for that assignment. Any incorporation of the work of others must be cited. Plagiarism will not be tolerated, including using prepared reports from the Internet or “cutting and pasting” without referencing original works.
  • Students must designate their current standing (e.g. MS III, MS IV) in the medical record when appropriate and possible.
  • The student is responsible for making sure that all notes and orders are cosigned by a supervising physician.
  • The student must never forge a physician’s signature, even if told to do so by the physician. This includes, but is not limited to, prescriptions, physician’s orders, forms for restricted medications, and discharge summaries.
  • The student must have specific authorization and/or direct supervision by their supervising physician in order to perform any procedure.

Respect for Others (Students, Colleagues, Faculty, Staff, Patients)

  • The student is expected to treat all patients, employees, colleagues, and supervisors with respect; derogatory or defamatory language/behavior is unacceptable.
  • The student must follow the KSOM professional dress code in all clinical settings.
  • The student is responsible for disseminating information to the student group/team if asked to do so. For example, a student must appropriately inform their colleagues of the time of rounds, the teaching of a procedure, or a special teaching session if asked to do so.
  • Unauthorized photography or videography is prohibited. The policies governing photography and videography in clinical settings are stated in institutional policies.

If a violation of the Code occurs, the Associate Dean for Student Affairs will be informed. Individuals who have had difficulty adhering to this policy may be referred to the Student Performance Committee.  If violations persist, the the student may be subject to probation, suspension or dismissal.

In addition, the student must abide by all University of Southern California policies as described in the University Catalogue and the SCAMPUS student guidebook (Section B11.00-11.55, Behavior Violating University Standards).

Finally, the student must abide by local, state, and national regulations and laws; any conduct breaking the law will not be tolerated including, but not limited to, sexual advances, gestures, improper propositions, harassment, battery, threatening behavior, stalking, and illegal drug possession.

REVISED May 23, 2021

Reviewed and Approved by: Medical Education Executive Council June 2, 2021

Skip to toolbar