What is the learning environment?

Throughout medical school, medical students learn in a variety of environments such as classrooms, small groups, testing sites, clinical skills workshops, primary care practicums, hospitals, and clinics. In addition to learning in a wide array of settings, learning takes place from a variety of teachers, including faculty, lecturers, instructors, physicians, residents, fellows, and fellow classmates. Regardless of the environment where a student is learning or who they are learning from, a learning environment should be physically safe, psychologically secure, beneficial to the student, and with an overall sense of encouragement for the student’s learning. Additionally, evaluation of the learner should be fair, impartial, objective, and unbiased.

Learn more here: Introduction to the Learning Environment module

Student mistreatment policy

The University of Washington School of Medicine is committed to assuring a safe and supportive learning environment that reflects the institution’s values: excellence, respect, integrity, compassion, altruism, and accountability in all endeavors. Diversity of ideas, perspectives and experiences are integral to our mission. All individuals in our UWSOM community are responsible for creating a welcoming and respectful environment where every person is valued and honored. Mistreatment of students by faculty, staff or peers at UWSOM is prohibited. This mistreatment includes incidents of humiliation; harassment or discrimination based on race, color, creed, religion, national origin, citizenship, sex, pregnancy, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, genetic information, disability, or veteran status, socioeconomic status, political beliefs or affiliations, and geographic region; and the use of grading or other forms of assessment in a punitive manner.

Reviewed and approved by the Faculty Council on Academic Affairs, March 8, 2018. Suzanne M. Allen, M.D., M.P.H., Vice Dean for Academic, Rural and Regional Affairs, March 8, 2018.

Expectations of teachers and learners are described more fully in the Policy on Professional Conduct.

Mistreatment includes the 16 behaviors listed below:

  • been publicly humiliated (as opposed to publicly embarrassed, which is not considered mistreatment)
  • been threatened with physical harm
  • been physically harmed
  • been required to perform personal services
  • been subjected to unwanted sexual advances
  • been asked to exchange sexual favors for grades or other rewards
  • been denied opportunities for training or rewards based on gender
  • been subjected to offensive sexist remarks/names
  • received lower evaluations or grades solely because of gender rather than performance
  • been denied opportunities for training or rewards based on race or ethnicity
  • been subjected to racially or ethnically offensive remarks/names
  • received lower evaluations or grades solely because of race or ethnicity rather than performance
  • been denied opportunities for training or rewards based on sexual orientation
  • been subjected to offensive remarks/names related to sexual orientation
  • received lower evaluations or grades solely because of sexual orientation rather than performance
  • been subjected to negative or offensive behavior(s) based on your personal beliefs or personal characteristics other than your gender, race/ethnicity, or sexual orientation


The list above is not comprehensive, and we invite students to share any serious concern about their learning environment.

Reporting Mistreatment or a Serious Concern

Click here to learn about reporting options.

Director of the Learning Environment


Melinda Frank (she/her/hers) joined Student Affairs as Director of the Learning Environment in 2018. She has a background in higher education (Ed.S.), bioethics (Erasmus Mundus master) and psychology (B.S.). She enjoys working with individuals from diverse backgrounds and strives to maximize student learning by supporting well-being and self-advocacy in an environment honoring dignity and respect. Her hobbies include international travel, live music, and spending time with loved ones, including her pet rabbit.


Program Operations Specialist


Karla Kelly (she/her/hers) joined the Learning Environment team as Program Operations Specialist in 2020. The program operations specialist position plays a key role in providing support for the promotion of a positive learning environment for students across WWAMI. As an alumna of the UW School of Medicine and staunch medical student advocate with experience in data and systems analysis, she brings a unique perspective and skillset to her role. Her hobbies include travel, reading, and spending time with her husband.



We acknowledge the land we occupy today as the traditional home of the Duwamish, Allied Tulalip, Muckleshoot, and Suquamish tribal nations. Without them, we would not have access to this working, teaching, and learning environment. We take the opportunity to thank the original caretakers of this land who are still here.


Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center