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Acad Psychiatry. 2005 Sep-Oct;29(4):368-73.

Protecting the residency training environment: a resident's perspective on the ethical boundaries in the faculty-resident relationship.

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  • 1Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, New Haven, CT, USA.



This article explores ethical complexities that underlie resident-faculty relationships. The faculty-resident relationship is as complex as that between a therapist and his or her patient, but it has been far less well studied.


From data obtained from psychiatry residents and faculty members regarding their experiences in this relationship, the authors present five vignettes that illustrate unethical conduct in the faculty-resident relationship.


Ethical lapses described in this article are problematic for two reasons: first, personal and professional harm may come to individual residents who find themselves interacting with an errant faculty member; and second, ethical lapses have the potential to damage the overall training environment itself. Once the terms of the faculty-resident relationship are discussed and accepted by all participants, unintentional or inadvertent ethical problems will be prevented, and residents will be in a position to identify faculty behaviors that do not conform to these agreed-upon expectations.


This article highlights the importance of incorporating education about ethical responsibilities and faculty-resident boundaries into the training curriculum. The authors offer suggestions for understanding faculty members' responsibilities to residents in their training programs.

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