Office of the Student Ombudsperson

The School of Medicine created the Office of the Ombudsperson in 2008. This office offers confidential and anonymous support and advocacy specifically to the medical students at Duke.

The Office of the Ombudsperson addresses student concerns about how and when to approach existing resources (Office of Institutional Equity, course directors, advisory deans, Practice Faculty) if or when they feel mistreated or have a conflict with another member of the School of Medicine community.

The role of the ombudsperson is to investigate and facilitate resolution of allegations by medical students of perceived unfair, inappropriate, discriminating or harassing treatment (behavior) by faculty, staff, administrators, or fellow students. This includes violations of University policy of equal treatment without regard to race, creed, religion, color, veteran status, sex, sexual preference, age, national or ethnic origin, or handicap, as well as violations of our own school’s “Compact Between Teachers and Learners of Medicine.”

The responsibilities of the Office of the Ombudsperson include:

  • Providing neutral safe and confidential environment to talk
  • Listening to concerns and complaints and discuss appropriate options
  • Helping to evaluate those options
  • Assisting students to resolve those options
  • Mediating conflicts, convene meetings, and engage in “shuttle diplomacy.”
  • Referring students to appropriate campus (Medical School) resources
  • Providing information about university (Medical School) resources

The ombudsperson does not constitute notice to the institution with regard to grievances or complaints and does not:

  • Adjudicate or participate in formal university grievances
  • Determine guilt of any party in a dispute
  • Get involved in any formal litigation or testify in court
  • Provide legal advice
  • Assign sanctions on individuals
  • Replace any official university office, department or process
  • Keep records of students and/or conversation.

Dr. Jean Spaulding
School of Medicine Ombudsperson

Jean Spaulding, MD

Dr. Spaulding has a long and accomplished history at the School of Medicine. She is a child and adolescent psychiatrist, a Trustee of the Duke Endowment and a graduate of the school. She helped to spearhead the School’s Open Access Curriculum. Dr. Spaulding has a deep and long-standing interest in the health and welfare of medical students and a wealth of experience helping people in navigating complex interpersonal situations.

To contact the Ombudsperson for medical students with a concern you would like to discuss, you may simply email or call Dr. Spaulding’s office at (919) 668-3326.


This letter is to all of our Duke University Medical School students as well as our Allied Health Professional program students. To those of you just joining us, welcome to the Duke University School of Medicine. For those of you who have been here, whether in your second, third, or final year of medical school, I want to remind you that our office is here and available to you should the need arise. My office confidentially serves you, medical students, our Post-docs, residents, Physician Assistant, and Physical Therapy students. It is our goal to listen and provide a safe environment for you and to help you decide on a course of action, if needed. We also are available to faculty members who have concerns and would like guidance on how best to help a student.

If you know of a student who might need our services, please feel free to remind them that they can contact us. We are located on the first floor of the North Pavillion on 2400 Pratt Street in Suite 1500. You are welcome to call my office for a confidential appointment to meet with me to share and discuss your concerns, small or large. To contact my office you may send an e-mail to or call my office at (919) 668-3326.

I wish you much success here at Duke!


Jean G. Spaulding, M.D. Ombudsperson
Duke University Medicine