10+ Year Member
Dec 22, 2008
Medical Student
I heard this recently happened in Chicago to clerks attending from a foreign medical school. When I first heard about it I was shocked to learn about the behavior of the hospital program secretary. This secretary appears to be having a power complex. Apparently, she talks negatively about clerks, behave with hostility and loading clerks she "does not like" with patients for no apparent reason and without knowledge of supervising physician. Also coercing clerks to buy her coffee and implying that they will get a good evaluation by doing so. And to be on her good side, some clerks go along with her behavior at the expense of other clerks. (Program secretaries have no business performing evaluations of clerks. This is the supervising physicians responsibility.)

Be careful about participating or condoning this unacceptable behavior. These behaviors are considered unethical and harassment. It is illegal in the eyes of US laws. Condoning and being complicit to these behavior can catch up with you sooner or later. Furthermore, as future physicians, unethical behavior is something you should not be condoning. It can bite you later if you were known to partake. If you see this behavior happening you need to to report it to the supervising physician - or to authorities like the State Attorney General of that State.

These program administrators need to be objective and not harass student clerks. Supervising physicians should also set guidelines and expectations with the clerks at the start of every rotation and be monitoring his/her administrator.
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