Shared Guidelines for Professional Conduct: Defining principles of respect, integrity, and accountability

On January 25, 2021, the inaugural edition of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health Shared Guidelines for Professional Conduct was announced by Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Elizabeth Petty, MD during the Winter Faculty/Staff Meeting.

This living document provides overarching guidance on the shared responsibility of everyone at SMPH to act with the highest levels of respect, integrity and accountability, and according to appropriate ethical and legal standards.

“These Shared Guidelines are intended to help us think about our culture across the school of medicine and public health, and to help guide us as we build an inclusive and respectful community,” said Dr. Petty.

A Building Community work team that included staff, learners, and faculty developed the Guidelines. The Shared Understanding Work team, which was co-chaired by Jennifer Stevens, department administrator in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Andrea Schmick, communications director in the Department of Medicine, focused on aligning cross-organizational definitions, setting expectations of professional behavior, and defining actionable plans for living our values.

“As our work team approached this assignment, we tried to be very intentional about the process,” said Schmick.

“We conducted a landscape analysis to identify existing codes of conduct in various areas at our institution as well as at other academic medical centers. After synthesizing this information and feedback from the work team, we presented a draft to the Building Community Steering Committee in August 2020, followed by the Dean’s Leadership Team. We also incorporated the school’s recently revised Mission, Vision and Values.”

The Guidelines document, which is listed among Building Community homepage resources, has seven sections that cover scope, purpose, guiding principles and behavior, reporting concerns, and related resources. Section Five states the following principles in clear, direct terms:

  • Be Accountable: Act with Honesty, Integrity, and Fairness.
  • Commit to Respect, Kindness, Compassion, and Altruism.
  • Demonstrate Innovation and Excellence.
  • Embrace Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

To access the Guidelines, visit A downloadable PDF is available, and hard copies will be distributed in the future. Note that the back cover of the PDF lists the principles cited in the document and serves a convenient means of posting a reminder in working and learning spaces.

As co-chair of the work group that drafted the Guidelines, Jennifer Stevens emphasized how the material is intended to support everyone in every role throughout the school. “The Shared Guidelines for Professional Conduct document is a tool that can spark self-reflection, shape conversations, and guide decisions. It truly was an honor to help create a resource that aims to create a collective understanding of professionalism for everyone in SMPH,” said Stevens.

Let us know how you’ll be utilizing the Shared Guidelines for Professional Development via this form. In the near future, additional supporting resources will be released such as digital signage, materials for orientation/onboarding, examples of how to use the Guidelines in daily working and learning scenarios, and toolkits for chairs and center/institute directors and supervisors.