Students Performing Procedures on Fellow Students

The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance for instructors when students are practicing or performing examinations or procedures on one another. The principles of informed consent are fundamental to these activities. The stringency of standards for ensuring explicit and non-coerced informed consent increases as the invasiveness and intimacy of the procedure increases.

  • In the context of learning basic clinical skills, students will be advised in course syllabi that they are thereby asked to participate in and consent to examinations and procedures performed on them by fellow students. Consent is implied unless the student notifies the instructor to the contrary.
  • Instructors will explain to students how the examinations or procedures will be performed, making certain that students are not placed in situations that will violate their privacy or sense of propriety. The confidentiality, consequences and appropriate management of a diagnostic finding will also be discussed.
  • Students are given the choice of whether to participate via the information outlined in the course syllabus, and there is no requirement for a student to provide a reason for his/her unwillingness to participate. 
  • Students will not be penalized for refusal to participate. Thus, instructors must refrain from evaluating a student’s overall performance in terms of his/her willingness to volunteer as a "patient."
  • Individual academic departments are responsible for establishing the standards and requirements relevant to the learning experience for each discipline and for ensuring that faculty members include language in their course syllabi concerning consent to participate in examinations and procedures performed by other students.
  • In the case of a documented refusal to participate in experiencing a particular examination or procedure that the department has established as a requirement, instructors are responsible for determining alternative methods to ensure that the student obtains the required experience. The plan must be approved by the dean or dean’s designee, and any costs associated with an alternative method used to fulfill a requirement are the responsibility of the student.

If a student is opting out creates a shortage of students on which other students can perform a procedure, the opting-out student must provide a substitute, at his/her own expense, to take his/her place.