Office of the Ombudsperson
The educational program in the School of Medicine has been developed to support and encourage the collegiality and professionalism essential to an effective learning environment. Students who believe that they have been punitively assessed or mistreated because of religion, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age or other factors have access to the School of Medicine ombudspersons.
The ombudspersons are empowered to receive and investigate reports of mistreatment in a completely confidential manner, to mediate between the parties involved, and, in the event mediation is not successful, to make recommendations directly to the dean of the School of Medicine regarding appropriate resolution of any complaints.
The use of the ombudspersons’ services to resolve a complaint represents a form of alternate dispute resolution. For this reason, the services of the ombudspersons will no longer be available to a student once that student engages an attorney to initiate legal action against the School of Medicine, the University of South Carolina, or the employees of those institutions.
Faculty members from all School of Medicine departments volunteer to serve as advisors to medical students. Advisors counsel students regarding academics or other areas pertinent to students’ satisfactory progress in the medical curriculum. They also assist students with such aspects of their clinical years as fourth-year electives, specialty selection, and residency application.
Faculty advisors and medical students are encouraged to meet at least once per semester. Advisors assist personnel in the School of Medicine Office of Student and Career Services in following the academic progress of their advisees.
Student-student advisory systems are at the discretion of the respective classes of the School of Medicine. Incoming first-year students are assigned student mentors in the summer so that they may meet preceding matriculation.
The majority of students elect to rent/purchase housing in the area adjacent to the School of Medicine campus. Information is posted on the bulletin board in the student mailroom in building 3. Additional information about off-campus housing can be obtained from the Office of Off-Campus Housing Service, Russell House University Union, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208.
The University provides a limited number of housing units for married couples. They are assigned on the basis of date of application receipt. For information, contact University Housing, University of South Carolina, Attn: Family Housing, 1215 Blossom Street, Columbia, SC 29208.
Located on the first floor of Basic Science Building 1 on the School of Medicine campus, the University of South Carolina Health Science Store offers medical textbooks, reference books, instruments, office supplies, laboratory coats, and microscope rentals. The University Bookstore, located in the Russell House University Union on the University campus, stocks textbooks, supplies, general interest books, popular and classical recordings, and a wide range of gift items.
A large well-furnished student lounge and adjoining small kitchen area are located on the first floor of the Basic Science Annex on the School of Medicine campus. The lounge, containing a television, computers, and a telephone, is available to students 24 hours a day.
Arthur L. Humphries Physical Fitness Center
The Arthur L. Humphries Physical Fitness Center is located on the ground floor of the Dorn V.A. Medical Center Auditorium. Equipped with a variety of exercise machines and mats, the center is open to School of Medicine students, faculty, and staff and Dorn V.A. Medical Center physicians, staff, and patients (under medical supervision).
Services for Students with Disabilities
The University of South Carolina does everything reasonably possible in an attempt to accommodate students with disabilities in the attainment of their academic objectives. Its Office of Disability Services is available to help disabled students with any problems in their campus life experience and to facilitate any adjustments that might be required. Medical students are invited to contact the Office of Disability Services, University of South Carolina, LeConte College, Room 106, Columbia, SC 29208, 803-777-6742, (TDD 803- 777-6744) http://www.sa.sc.edu/sds.
As students of the University of South Carolina, medical students are entitled to use all facilities and programs available to University students. A partial listing follows.
Russell House University Union
Located at the center of the campus, this facility contains numerous meeting rooms, a ballroom, television and conversational lounges, music listening rooms, a browsing lounge, a theater, and office space for student organizations, including the Student Government, campus newspaper, and radio station.
A variety of services is provided throughout the building. Personnel assist students in locating services. University Dining Services operates food service facilities in the Russell House University Union.
Carolina Productions arranges educational, recreational, and social activities for and with the entire University community. For information, contact the Carolina Productions in the Russell House.
The University sponsors extensive programs in nine men’s and 11 women’s intercollegiate sports. Its athletic teams, the Gamecocks and the Lady Gamecocks, compete as members of the Southeastern Conference of NCAA Division 1A.
Among the facilities for athletics at the University are Williams-Brice Stadium, Colonial Center, an all-weather track, a baseball stadium, and tennis courts. The Blatt Physical Education Center and the Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center provide extensive indoor space for student sports, including Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Intramural Recreational Athletic and Club Sports
The Division of Student and Alumni Services of the University conducts an extensive intramural athletic and recreational sports program for all students, with competition in many areas. Students may participate as individuals and teams in more than 25 intramural sports and in 13 club sports.
The School of Medicine is committed to providing all students with appropriate health care and personal counseling in a compassionate, confidential, and professional manner. Student confidentiality is a priority. No physician treating a student will be involved in the education, evaluation or advancement process for the School of Medicine, with the exception of emergency services, wherein USCSOM Columbia faculty and residents may be the clinical staff responsible for the facility to which the student presents, and it is in the best interest of the student to receive immediate care. The student will be transferred to the care of non-faculty physicians as soon as medically appropriate.
Student Health Policies
Contagious Infections and/or Diseases. The School of Medicine has adopted the following policy regarding applicants and students with contagious infections and/or diseases:
The University of South Carolina School of Medicine supports fully the spirit and intent of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1992 in fulfilling its role of providing a medical education to qualified candidates with contagious infections and/or diseases who do not constitute a direct threat to the health and safety of other individuals and who are otherwise able to fulfill the requirements incident to attending medical school.
In fulfilling its obligation to educate future physicians, the School of Medicine is charged with maintaining the integrity of the curriculum; preserving, as part of the curriculum, those elements deemed necessary to the education of physicians; and adhering to procedures consonant with those established with the Centers for Disease Control, among others, to maintain the health and safety of patients.
It is, therefore, the policy of the School of Medicine to fulfill the above-stated obligation, and to provide expert and safe patient care; protect the personal rights of students with contagious infections and/or diseases, including the right to be free from disparate treatment and improper management of confidential information; provide information, education, and support services that promote the professional and personal well-being of students; provide a safe working environment for all students; and provide for the implementation of laws and regulations pertaining to public health and welfare.
Therefore, pursuant to the above-stated policy, in appropriate cases, after obtaining the advice and consultation of the appropriate clinical clerkship director, the School of Medicine will monitor and modify the clinical activities of infected students who pose unwarranted risks to patients. The decision to modify the clinical activities shall be based upon an objective evaluation of the individual student’s experience, technical expertise, functional disabilities, and the extent to which the contagious infection and/or disease can be readily transmitted. The infected student shall be afforded full participation in clinical activities that do not pose unwarranted risks to patients, as determined by the appropriate clinical clerkship director. In all instances where the educational activities of a student are modified, steps shall be taken to ensure that his/her educational experience is equivalent to that of his/her uninfected peers. In such cases, maintaining the integrity of the educational experience afforded such a student shall be of paramount importance.
Chemical Dependency. The School of Medicine has adopted the following policy regarding chemical dependency in medical students:
The University of South Carolina School of Medicine recognizes that chemical dependency represents a problem of national proportions and that medical students may be at increased risk.
The School of Medicine is therefore committed to providing an integrated substance abuse curriculum to medical students as a component of their medical education, to promoting student wellness by identifying and assisting students who may be chemically dependent, and to providing access for medical students to confidential chemical dependency treatment programs that will not jeopardize their professional career goals.
Definitions. Substance abuse is characterized as insidious, progressive, chronic, malignant, primary, family-centered, and treatable. The medical consequences resulting from impairment from substance abuse range from a mild hangover to death due to bleeding, infection, or trauma. For medical students, impairment is defined as recurring trouble associated with alcohol or drug abuse; the trouble may occur in any of several domains, including interpersonal (family or other relationships), educational, legal, financial, or medical. Examples include the range of behaviors from absences from class, clinical clerkships, and electives; repeated lateness in the initiation or completion of assigned responsibilities; binge drinking to violence while under the influence of chemicals; traffic accidents and arrests for driving under the influence; attempts to reduce chemical use; receipt of criticism about alcohol and/or drug use from fellow students, faculty members, medical residents, and other clinical supervisors; and, most especially, the student’s continued drinking and/or drug use in spite of adverse consequences.
Sources of assistance. Confidential assistance for medical students with suspected chemical dependency impairment may be obtained from any of the following sources:
Community resources: The South Carolina Medical Association Physicians’ Assistance and Advocacy Committee has formally agreed to provide compassionate assistance to medical students and medical residents with chemical dependency problems. Confidential assistance with assessment, intervention, or treatment questions can be obtained by contacting the Physicians’ Assistance and Advocacy Committee chair at 803-798-6207 or 800-327-1021. South Carolina Medical Association offices are located at 3210 Fernandina Road, Columbia, SC 29211.
University of South Carolina/School of Medicine resources: One component of the School of Medicine Department of Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Science focuses on education, clinical research, and clinical assessment in the area of alcohol and other substance abuse. Medical students concerned about their use/abuse of chemical substances and/or that of their peers may obtain confidential assistance by contacting the USC Counseling and Human Development Center (803-777-5223). In addition, the Peer Advocacy Committee of the Medical Student Association has confidential advisement from a physician faculty member in the Department of Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Science. Confidential assistance with intervention and referral may be obtained by contacting the Peer Advocacy Committee through the Medical Student Assocation. The Psychological Services Center (803-777-4864), and the Thomson Student Health Center (803-777-3957), all on the Columbia campus of the University of South Carolina, and the School of Medicine Department of Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Science (803-434-4300) provide confidential assessment, referral, and treatment. Assistance is also available from the associate dean for medical education and academic affairs (803-216-3600), the assistant dean for student affairs (803-216-3630), and the GHSUMC assistant dean for medical education (864-455-5494).
Other resources: A comprehensive listing of statewide educational, counseling, and referral resources for problems related to chemical dependency is available from the Department of Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Science; see above. An additional list of resources is published annually by the University of South Carolina in the Carolina Community: Student Handbook and Policy Guide provided to each medical student at the beginning of the fall semester. The Carolina Community also contains those University policies and procedures relating to the use of alcohol and other drugs to which all enrolled University students are subject as members of the University community.
Student Health Services
Student Health Services provides accessible, convenient, high quality, low cost health care. The health services team is sincerely interested in your health and wants to be your partner in wellness.
Student Health Services provides on-campus medical, mental health, ancillary, and health and wellness services for students. Services include (1) ambulatory primary care at clinics and ancillary services located at the nationally accredited Thomson Student Health Center; (2) a comprehensive array of counseling, testing, and psychological and psychiatric services available at the nationally accredited Counseling and Human Development Center; and (3) a wide variety of wellness-oriented programs and educational services offered by the Office for Campus Wellness and the Office for Sexual Health and Violence Prevention. Students are encouraged to visit the various Student Health Services Web sites for additional information on clinics, services, and programs. Links to these sites can be found at www.sa.sc.edu/shs/tshc and www.sa.sc.edu/shs.
Students in the School of Medicine have available to them various counseling, consultation, and psychotherapeutic resources. These may be sought from the Office of Student and Career Services, faculty and student advisors, and psychologists and psychiatrists with appointments in the School of Medicine, as well as from the various services and counseling centers on the University campus. Emergency psychiatric services and confidential assessment, referral, and treatment services are available on a 24-hour-a-day basis from the School of Medicine Department of Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Science (803-434-4300).
Students enrolled in the School of Medicine program at the Greenville Hospital System University Medical Center have access to equivalent counseling and medical services; information about these services is provided to students at the time of third-year orientation.
Students enrolled in the School of Medicine are required to have a current medical insurance policy in effect at the time of fall registration and throughout the academic year and to provide the School of Medicine with verification/proof of insurance or sign a formal declaration waiver form.
A comprehensive health insurance policy is made available by Pearce & Pearce, Inc. through the University of South Carolina for students and their spouses and/or children. Brochures and registration materials are available to all students. The policy is in effect from August 1st to July 31st, with fee payment due at the time of fall and spring registrations.
Students are also required to provide, prior to matriculation, a current medical history, the results of a physical examination, and immunization data on forms provided by the School of Medicine. In order to ensure the health and safety of students and patients in both the classroom and clinical settings, students must provide documentation of immunizations: two dates/doses of MMR or immune state (titers) for rubeola, rubella, mumps; varicella (either a titer or documentation of two doses of varicella vaccine, history of chickenpox is no longer accepted); polio at the time of initial matriculation (refusal form available); and evidence of a tetanus booster. A TB test is required within six months of matriculation. If the results of TB testing are positive or if the student is known to have tested positive previously, the student must provide proof of positive PPD and negative chest x-ray within the last three years. Continuing students will receive TB testing each year as arranged by the medical school. Evidence of a hepatitis-B vaccine is required with a blood titer prior to matriculation, or to be completed by the end of the first semester (refusal form available). Students accepted in transfer must also provide documentation of hepatitis B immunization and evidence of immune status by blood titer by the end of the first year of transfer (refusal form available). A hepatitis B immunization program is available, at cost, through the School of Medicine during the first year of medical education.
Drug screening may be required by certain clinical facilities in which School of Medicine students rotate. In cases as such, students must successfully satisfy the testing requirement of the facility.
Workers Compensation Insurance
All medical students are covered by Workers Compensation insurance through the State Accident Fund for any injuries sustained by students during the course of those clinical activities that are a part of their medical educations. The premium for this insurance is paid by the School of Medicine. Information about Workers Compensation insurance policies and procedures and the reporting requirements for injuries sustained by students during their medical educations is provided to students annually and available in the Office of Student Services.
A disability insurance policy is available and required for all medical students. Annual premium payment is due at the time of fall registration.
Students enrolled in the School of Medicine may participate in a wide variety of University organizations, including those of specific interest to medical students.
Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA). AOA is the national honor society for medical students. Election to AOA membership is based upon academic achievement, integrity, leadership ability, and service to the School of Medicine. Eligibility for AOA membership is limited to third- and fourth-year medical students.
Medical Student Association (MSA). The goal of the MSA is to foster the exchange of ideas among health science students. Toward this end, periodic seminars are held at which research and health-related topics of both a general and specific nature are discussed. The MSA also sponsors social, athletic, and community service activities for students and faculty members.
American Medical Student Association (AMSA). AMSA is a national student organization that offers supplementary educational programs, including sections in specialized fields and summer preceptorships. Membership dues are a one-time fee that includes organizational membership, publications, an opportunity to purchase life insurance, and other services. Members are also eligible to attend the annual national convention.
American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA). AMWA is a national organization representing women medical students and physicians. Its goal is to enhance the education and training of members and to educate them and the public on health issues of women.
Medical Student Section of the American Medical Association (AMA-MSS). The AMA-MSS enables students to be represented in the activities of organized medicine within the state and nation.
Student National Medical Association (SNMA). The School of Medicine SNMA chapter encourages minority students to consider careers in the health professions and promotes mutual support and communication among minority medical students.
Journal Club. The Journal Club keeps students informed on new research and procedures in medical science; gives students the opportunity to read and present research to their peers in a comfortable setting (as good practice for future presentations as upperclassmen or residents); and, gives students the opportunity to access the appropriate faculty while preparing their presentations.
Dermatology Interest Group. The Dermatology Interest Group is for medical students who have an interest in pursuing a career in dermatology. The group participates in several projects, including the National Melanoma Awareness Project. Members will have opportunities to work with local practicing dermatologists.
Emergency Medicine Interest Group. The Emergency Medicine Interest Group provides opportunities for students to learn about the specialty of emergency medicine. At quarterly meetings and seminars, students meet emergency medicine physicians, participate in practical, hands-on workshops, and discuss topics of relevance to emergency medicine.
Family Medicine Interest Group. The Department of Family and Preventive Medicine and the South Carolina chapter of the American Academy of Family Physicians sponsor a Family Practice Club for students who have an interest in careers in this field. At meetings held throughout the academic year at student-determined intervals, students meet family and preventive medicine faculty members, practicing family physicians, and family practice residents. In addition, an annual dinner meeting is held at which a prominent family physician is featured as guest speaker.
Internal Medicine Interest Group. The Internal Medicine Interest Group holds informational and social meetings during the academic year for students interested in general internal medicine and in the various specialties and subspecialties of internal medicine. These meetings include presentations by faculty members in the Department of Medicine, community physicians, and internal medicine residents.
Obstetrics and Gynecology Interest Group. The OB/GYN Interest Group provides programs for students interested in OB/GYN and other women’s health issues. Meetings include presentations by faculty in the Department of OB/GYN, community physicians and OB/GYN residents. Students are also involved in the Teen Clinic at 1801 Sunset Blvd.
Oncology Interest Group.
Ophthalmology Interest Group.
Pediatric Interest Group. The Pediatric Interest Group was initiated by the Department of Pediatrics to assist students potentially interested in pediatrics to pursue their interests by means of regular contact with departmental faculty members and residents and with regional and national experts in the field. Meetings and social events are held regularly throughout the academic year.
Psychiatry Interest Group. The Psychiatry Interest Group was created to foster students interested in psychiatry and behavioral science. Four to six dinner meetings are held throughout the academic year, with presentations by faculty members involved in behavioral science/psychiatry research.
Radiology Interest Group.
Surgery Interest Group. For students with an interest in surgery, the Surgical Interest Group is a student-administered organization that meets monthly throughout the academic year. At these meetings, open to students in all four years, case discussions about surgical cases are moderated by faculty members, with first-year students presenting the anatomy, second-year students presenting the pathophysiology, and third- and fourth-year students presenting the work-up and diagnosis of the case.
Wilderness Medicine Interest Group. The Wilderness Medicine Interest Group provides programs for students with an interest in aspects of wilderness medicine, including emergency response and preventive care.
Military Medicine Interest Group. The purpose of the Military Medicine Interest Group is to establish fellowship among future military physicians. The group also works to establish continuity of information between classes in order to ease the transition into military duties and military residencies.
American Geriatrics Society (AGS). The purpose of the student chapter network of AGS is to interest physicians-in-training in the field of geriatrics, to enhance the visibility of geriatric medicine at the medical school level, and to provide educational programs on geriatric medicine. AGS holds events in which speakers in the field of geriatrics educate students on relevant issues in the areas of research as well as standard practices.
Religious Activities. Medical students are invited to participate in a wide range of student religious activities on the University campus. There is a University chaplain available for counseling. Several denominations provide religious centers with full-time chaplains offering services to the University community. Columbia churches and denominations also serve University students.
Christian Medical Association (CMA). Medical students may participate in monthly CMA activities on the School of Medicine campus.
IHI Open School. The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), an international organization focused on improving healthcare quality and patient safety around the globe, has established the IHI Open School for health professions. The University chapter connects students from all of the University’s health professions schools, including medicine, nursing, pharmacy, physical therapy, social work, healthcare administration, and others. Open School works to establish an interprofessional educational community that gives students the skills to become change agents in healthcare. The chapter has a primary focus in the areas of patient safety, quality improvement, teamwork and communication, and leadership.