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Policy

Conflict of Interest Procedure

Categories: PGME clerkship conflict faculty preclerkship UGME

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Purpose

The purpose of the Procedure for Conflict of Interest During Student Assessment is to articulate the implementation of the University of Saskatchewan’s Conflict of Interest policy.   This provides transparent processes whereby medical students, faculty and staff are able to identify and report instances of conflict of interest.

These procedures ensure that the Undergraduate Medical Education program meets or exceeds the following Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools (CACMS) accreditation standards:

1.2 Conflict of Interest Policies:  A medical school has in place and follows effective policies and procedures applicable to board members, faculty members, and any individuals with responsibility for the medical education program to avoid the impact of conflicts of interest in the operation of the medical education program, its associated clinical facilities, and any related enterprises.

Introduction

The University of Saskatchewan’s Conflict of Interest Policy applies to all university members, as described in this excerpt:

This policy applies to everyone who is a member of the University of Saskatchewan. A university member means all faculty, staff, trainees, students, and adjuncts of the University of Saskatchewan, whether full-time, reduced, or part-time, and any other person while acting on behalf of, or at the request of, the university including, but not limited to, members of a university committee (including the senate and board of governors), persons giving advice or providing services to the university at the request of the university, and anyone involved in a decision making process.

Each university member has a responsibility to avoid conflicts of interest, and the appearance of conflict of interest, and to disclose to their unit head any conflict of interest situations and all disclosures should be made in writing immediately upon discovery.

Faculty, trainees, adjuncts, administrative, professional or technical staff and student members who have disclosed a conflict of interest should, in consultation with their unit head, resolve the conflict of interest, which may require the discontinuance of the activities through which the conflict of interest will arise or has arisen.

Scope

These procedures apply to instances where undergraduate students registered in the Doctor of Medicine (MD) program at the University of Saskatchewan, irrespective of the geographically distributed site to which they are currently assigned, as well as faculty and staff identify instances of perceived or real conflict of interest in assessment.

Definitions

A conflict of interest is a situation in which financial or other personal considerations have the potential to compromise or bias professional judgement and objectivity.  An apparent conflict of interest is one in which it is reasonable to think that the professional’s judgement is likely to be compromised.  A potential conflict of interest may develop into an actual conflict of interest.  A conflict of interest exists whether or not decisions are affected by personal interest.  A conflict of interest implies only the potential for bias and not a likelihood.

Examples of conflict of interest include:

• Accepting gifts, benefits or favours from students, instructors, faculty or preceptors.

• Supervising or evaluating a student who is a member of the immediate family or with whom there exists or has recently existed an intimate or personal relationship.

• Participating in decisions, interviews or assessment of candidates for admission to the MD Program where one or more candidates is a member of his or her immediate family, or a person with whom there exists or has recently existed a friendship , intimate, personal or financial relationship.

• Directing a course, year or term where one or more students is a member of the immediate family.

• Supervision or evaluation of a student by a member of the Office of Student Affairs where there exists or has recently existed a counselling/advising relationship.  

Adapted from Queen’s University Undergraduate Medical Education Standard Operating Procedures Concerning Conflicts of Interest for Undergraduate Medical Education Faculty and Students (August 12, 2016)

Responsibilities

The Associate Dean, Undergraduate Medical Education is responsible for the oversight and implementation of the Procedure for Conflict of Interest During Student Assessment.

Specific Procedure - Conflict of Interest in Academic Assessment

6.1 Proactive Disclosure

The Undergraduate Medical Education Office will inform preceptors of the Procedure for Conflict of Interest During Student Assessment.on an annual basis.

Preceptors are expected to review the student lists provided to them by the Undergraduate Medical Education Office well in advance of assessing medical students in courses, modules, or rotations. Preceptors should proactively disclose any perceived or actual conflict of interest pertaining to medical student assessments to the course administrator.

Medical students are expected to review individual course outlines well in advance of being assessed by a preceptor in a course, module, or rotation. Medical students should proactively disclose any perceived or actual conflict of interest pertaining to academic assessment to the course administrator.

For forms of assessment in which there may be potential for subjectivity in the assessment, the course administrator will arrange for an alternative assessment to be made. For objective forms of assessment (example: multiple choice questions) the assessment shall proceed as planned.

6.2 Reactive Disclosure

Preceptors who identify a perceived or actual conflict of interest while assessing a medical student must cease the assessment immediately and inform the course administrator.

Medical students who identify a perceived or actual conflict of interest while being assessed must discretely inform the preceptor who in turn shall cease the assessment. Both parties must inform the course administrator of the occurrence.

For forms of assessment in which there may be a potential for subjectivity in the assessment, the course administrator shall arrange for an alternative assessment to be made. For objective forms of assessment (example: multiple choice questions) the assessment shall proceed as planned.

6.3 Post-Assessment Disclosure

Medical students who identify a perceived or actual conflict of interest after having been assessed in a course, module, or rotation will be assigned the grade submitted by the preceptor. The only recourse available to a medical student dissatisfied with their assigned grade are the regulations described in the college-level Procedures for Academic Appeal.

Internal References