Bystander training for physicians

The author of Medical School 2020 said that he was going to be taking “bystander training.” I responded with “So you’ll know what to do if you see a car accident, like Tom Cruise?” It turned out to be something different:

We are excited to bring Bystander Training to [the school]. This program was built by [a person with a female-typical first name and degrees in psychology and women’s studies] and designed to train citizens to safely intercede when they see another individual at risk of sexual harassment and/or sexual assault. This evidence-based program is regarded highly as one avenue through which sexual harassment and sexual assault can be successful combatted.

This training will prove helpful not only in your interpersonal interactions privately, but also in your interpersonal interactions professionally. Unfortunately, sexual harassment and sexual assault are found in every setting. Learning how to navigate extremely challenging moments in time can prove invaluable to everyone involved.

This training is required for all M1, M2, and M3 students.

[signature from an administrator with a female-typical first name]

9 thoughts on “Bystander training for physicians

  1. Assuming sex of a person = really, really bad. Assuming sexual harassment of a person = good. What about people that naturally self identify as a victim of sexual harassment. These doctors will be manipulating them out of their true sexual identity. For laughs he should ask the medical school if this isn’t just re-branded conversion therapy.

  2. Here’s some background from the Harvard Business Review. “Sexual Harassment” as a term and a legal category was invented about four decades ago, around 1980. There haven’t been, until recently, any evidence-based mitigation techniques, and the programs and the industry (including services by outsource HR companies and private psychologists) took a couple of decades to bootstrap. In 2016 it really found its legs:

    “The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in its 2016 task force report encouraged employers to offer bystander training, for one. And New York City passed a law in May requiring all companies with more than 15 employees to begin providing bystander training by April 2019. It could prove a promising, long-term solution.”

    Culture change:

    “Yet culture change is exactly why bystander interventions could be powerful: the strategy recognizes that, when it comes to workplace culture, everyone is responsible for creating it, every day, in every interaction.”

    Risk aversion and rape prevention:

    “Jane Stapleton, co-director of the Prevention Innovations Research Center at the University of New Hampshire and an expert in bystander interventions, told me about an all-too-familiar scenario: Say there’s a lecherous guy in the office — someone who makes off-color jokes, watches porn at his cubicle, or hits on younger workers. Everyone knows who he is. But no one says anything. Co-workers may laugh uncomfortably at his jokes, or ignore them. Maybe they’ll warn a new employee to stay away from him. Maybe not. “Everybody’s watching, and nobody’s doing anything about it. So the message the perpetrator gets is, ‘My behavior is normal and natural,’” Stapleton said. “No one’s telling him, ‘I don’t think you should do that.’ Instead, they’re telling the new intern, ‘Don’t go into the copy room with him.’ It’s all about risk aversion — which we know through decades of research on rape prevention, does not stop perpetrators from perpetrating.”

  3. To get your head straightened out about it, so you understand what the goals are and the basis, you should also read the written testimony of Fran Sepler before the EEOC:

    Medicine in particular:

    “By now it is clear that the risk factors I am discussing often overlap. In nursing, for instance, you have a single gender dominated profession interacting with the more than occasional dynamic of physicians with unearned privilege. Add to that the requirement for thick skin and you land squarely in the two riskiest places for harassment in medicine – the OR and the ER. “

    • I particularly like the way she gets a little excited: “I spend a good part of the training I do helping people to understand how we can create for one another an environment which is really KRYPTONITE to bad behavior.”

      What a colorful metaphor! She likes it a lot. Of course, as we all know, Kryptonite is the mineral the has the property of depriving Superman of his powers. She digs that a lot, even though once upon a time, Superman was supposed to be the GOOD GUY. Not in the world of Sepler & Associates. And not in your world now, either. Superman is an example of unearned privilege in extremis – he can only fly, etc., because he was *born* on Krypton.

  4. Honestly, given some of the personalities we’ve heard about, a lot of them could probably benefit from some empathy training. It might help their bedside manner & make them better doctors.

  5. I’m no fan of Scientology, but I gotta say, in this case it sounds like the better choice.

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