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  1. #1
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    Would you report unethical behavior at your workplace?

    I'm teaching an advanced level course that includes a section on ethics. The students have read multiple articles and have engaged in good discussions of the concepts. I do think they've got the point as it were. However, an interesting element has arisen in their discussions. They all are commenting on how many times they've witnessed behavior by professionals in their clinical areas that they now understand contradicts many of the professional ethics codes and practice standards. Yet, none of them have ever reported such behavior to the faculty or to the clinical supervisors. So, I asked why. Most reply that they are afraid of making someone mad or being retaliated against. They don't want to be the "snitch." Yet, they now also understand that to know of an unethical act and to do nothing is considered an equal violation by our professional certification agency and society. How do you get this across to students? Clearly, the professionals in the workplace don't adhere to the concept. I realize this a much broader issue in the workplace. What would you do or have you done in such a circumstance? How do you teach a student not to do X when they see it happen all around them?
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  2. #2

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    Does your school have mandatory ethics training for students, faculty, and staff? Our state university does, and while it can be a pain to go through it every year (it's presented online), it at least reinforces the seriousness of not reporting unethical behavior/actions that you have witnessed (including the sanctions that can be enforced including dismissal, fines, etc.). It presents various scenarios and types of questionable behavior that one might witness (with various employee actions/inactions) and also goes into great length about the protections that exist to protect "whistle-blowers." Maybe things are different in your state and at your school, so this might not be at all relevant.
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    We have mandatory ethics training annually. I have made three reports in the last almost 9 years that I have worked in my current position. Two involved a partner leaving the hospital when he shouldn't have, and the third involved a different partner berating a resident repeatedly on rounds. Essentially nothing was done about any of them, so I will not be reporting anything again. What's the point of putting myself at risk of retaliation or being labeled the "snitch"? I think your students are on to something.

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    Quote Originally Posted by skatingfan5 View Post
    Does your school have mandatory ethics training for students, faculty, and staff? .
    The school doesn't for faculty, and I don't know what the hospitals do with their employees. This is a senior level class that is much more advanced than the minimum accreditation requirements. The class has been very successful in getting the students involved and talking about important issues. However the real success will be in how they carry this forward into professional practice at the end of the year.

    Quote Originally Posted by mikey View Post
    We have mandatory ethics training annually. I have made three reports in the last almost 9 years that I have worked in my current position. Two involved a partner leaving the hospital when he shouldn't have, and the third involved a different partner berating a resident repeatedly on rounds. Essentially nothing was done about any of them, so I will not be reporting anything again. What's the point of putting myself at risk of retaliation or being labeled the "snitch"? I think your students are on to something.
    And, that is the issue. I can assure them that they will not be compromised as a student, but the reality is a report could cost them a potential job and there would be nothing I could do to prevent that. One of the students did come to us and told about a tech who took cell phone pictures of an elderly patient. We immediately went to the clinical supervisor. The tech is still working even though this violated multiple ethical and HIPPA principles. Maybe the best I can hope for is the fact they are invested in the course, are reading the materials and are talking about this will at least make them act like they know they should.
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    At our workplace, you can be fired if you don't report a violation. We have a compliance officer who helps figure out the shades of gray and insulates the reporter from the violator.

    Maybe you could ask the clinical partners to share their ethics policies and associated penalties to help the students understand that it's taken seriously "out there."
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    I suspect that is the official policy for most facilities, but there is a culture of silence that dictates what happens everyday. That's what the students see. You can quote policy all day, but they pay attention to what they see in practice. Which is the original question. Is it a useful exercise in saying essentially, do what I say and not what you see?

    They are split 50/50 right now in thinking some of the perps are ignorant of the rules versus just being lazy and no longer caring about what they do. They will not answer the question about reporting what they see and clearly they have not done so in practice.
    Last edited by rfisher; 11-07-2012 at 11:38 PM.
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    I was advised by a coworker about a program coordinator engaging in unethical behaviour at an agency we make referrals to.I advised my coworker that I needed to report this to our manager and they understood. I work with a vulnerable population and I couldn't in good conscience not report what I had been told.

    An inquest was done and he is still in his position. I no longer make referrals to that agency. Ethics are a huge deal to me and because of the nature of my job, and the vulnerabilities the clients I work with face, I will continue to speak up if I see something that is unethical. IMVHO this basically about morals and values and standing up for what is right
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    My workplace sends round emails reminding people. And we have to take a course every year or so. Plus, if we want to do any extra work, even volunteer work for another organization, we have to first clear it through the values and ethics police. Last year I was told I had to send a report because I requested two months of leave without pay to do another job, one that I was appointed to, for another level of government. It took the values and ethics police five months to determine I wasn't behaving in an unethical manner. Five months to rate another government department. I was totally disgusted and I'm almost positive it sat on someone's desk for the whole time. Now we're told we can't be involved with any charity unless it's on an approved list. Most of the office now refuse to have anything to do with any charity through work. I do all my donating from home.
    Sorry, this is a rant of mine. But I do work with confidential material all the time and I don't have the slightest interest in remembering any of it. We are required to report any infringement, and yes, to answer your question, I would report it.

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    The last place I worked full time had a culture of silence.

    I recently found out that someone had reported bizarre behavior between a teacher and student two weeks before that teacher was arrested for making inappropriate sexual advances toward that student. The teacher who reported it was told she was "overreacting" and was "jealous" that the other teacher had a good relationship with students.

  10. #10
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    At my social work agency workplace I can honestly say I have never seen any unethical behaviour.. however can't say the same for the college I teach at with the faculty .. which doesn't mean to say that it isn't dealt with but that in my workplace there is a higher level of understanding especially as we are also working with vulnerable populations ..
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  11. #11
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    When I held that stupid band job, I saw lots of unethical behavior from my superior. She broke all sorts of rules in the University Student Employment handbook, pretty much every single day, when it came to those few of us whom were working for her. She was dishonest and manipulative and it was awful.

    When I tried to resign, all hell broke loose, and I was manipulated and lied to in order to prevent me from doing so. Multiple Professors in the Department were aware of this, people who had been there much longer than she had - and no one did anything about it. They tried to support me the best they can, but in hindsight I think the impetus should have been on all of them who were aware of what was going on to do something about it, and they just let it happen. And it has happened again since then, and had happened before. I was completely terrified and heartbroken over the entire situation, and I had no idea what to do. I should have gone to the ombudsman, but this person was responsible for classes I was required to take that could prevent me from graduating or student teaching, and the possible consequences of going seemed way too high if she learned about it but nothing was done.

    And since obtaining a real job, I've already seen some unethical behavior. But if I report it, what are the chances that person will take me seriously? If they don't, is my job or my reputation in jeopardy? It's very hard to guarantee that a person who chooses to report unethical behavior will be safe after they have done it. There's the very real fear that you will lose your job, or that everyone in your office will suddenly distrust you, or any number of other consequences. So most people will choose not to do so. Why did Jerry Sandusky get away with the crap he did, even though people knew it was unethical? People thought the consequences would be too great - whether it was consequences for the football team, for the school, for themselves personally... even people who did try to do something about it were essentially shot down, and what did that teach them about reporting ethical behavior?

  12. #12
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    I'm a contractor so a lot of this doesn't apply to me but at my last job as an employee, we had a way to report things annoymously if we thought we saw unethical behavior. The good part is that you could report things without fear of retaliation but the bad part is that sometimes is seemed like you were reporting things into a big black hole.

    For example, a bunch of us reported a particular situation and nothing changed. So either we were ignored or they investigated and decided nothing was wrong but we never found out so to us it looked like no one cared.
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