Ombudsperson for Faculty of Medicine
by Sharon Gray
The Faculty of Medicine is trying a little preventative medicine on itself. Dr. Maria Goodridge has been appointed the faculty’s first ombudsperson for a one-year trial period.
In making the announcement, Dr. James Rourke, dean of Medicine, also circulated the faculty’s policy on intimidation and harassment, which was recently approved at Faculty Council.
While encouraging all students to seek out and use the normal resources and communication channels to address their issues or concerns, Dr. Rourke noted that there may be occasional situations where a student, resident or graduate student feels that they cannot take their concerns forward to the normal person or their alternative or superior because of the perception of conflict of interest and they wish to ensure their concerns are heard.
“Under such circumstances, if the student wishes to ensure their concerns are heard it would be appropriate to contact Dr. Goodridge and set up a meeting with her,” said Dr. Rourke. “At that meeting, Dr. Goodridge will discuss with the student alternative options or people to whom the student may take their concern. If the student feels they are unable to take their concerns forward and feels it is a sufficient concern and the dean of Medicine should be aware of the issue, then at the student’s request Dr. Goodridge will prepare a summary of the issue in which no-one is identified by name that will then be forwarded to the dean or vice-dean.”
Dr. Goodridge, who is a family doctor, said her role will be that of a “third person” who can step in if a student has concerns with a program or department head and feels they can’t deal directly with the concern. She said there have been incidents in the past involving harassment and intimidation that represent the kind of issues she may have to deal with. Her role will address the zero tolerance expectation for harassment at the medical school.
Dr. Goodridge’s role will not be to provide counselling or investigation, but to help students identify pathways that the student may take their concerns to for answers or action.
“As a family doctor in a small practice in New Brunswick, I have experience in counselling,” said Dr. Goodridge. “Although I teach at the medical school I am not connected with any particular program so I can be impartial in any dispute.”
Although no concerns have been brought forward yet to the new ombudsperson, Dr. Goodridge anticipates that there may be times in the next year when a problem arises and must be dealt with efficiently.
The contact information for Dr. Goodridge is Ombudsperson@med.mun.ca.