What is an Ombud?

The word Ombudsman originated in Sweden, where it was used to designate a public official who was appointed to investigate citizen’s complaints against the governmental agencies. Here at the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Medicine, the ombuds help students to resolve conflict and give unbiased feedback on matters of concern.

When should I contact the Ombuds Office?

All inquiries are welcome. No level of conflict is too great or too small to seek the informal and confidential input of an Ombud. Contacting the Ombuds is strictly voluntary and may be done any time you find yourself in the position of feeling like a conflict may arise with your boss, a colleague, or University group or department.

Are conversations with the University Ombuds confidential?

Conversations with our team are generally considered confidential. Confidentiality cannot be promised if there is an imminent risk of serious harm, threats to public safety, or compelled by a court of law.

What kind of problems can the Ombuds help with?

  • Relationship with your supervisor
  • Interpersonal conflicts
  • Workplace incivility
  • University policies and procedures
  • Academic disputes
  • Bullying and harassment
  • Equitable treatment
  • Grievance procedures

How can the Ombudsperson help?

  • By listening and providing a neutral resource
  • By explaining and abiding by the policies and procedures
  • By providing initial counseling in clarifying issues and providing referral when appropriate
  • By analyzing the issue and providing options in resolving complaints
  • By preventing an issue from escalating into a major problem when possible

Can my parents or supervisor request details of my issue?

No third party, not even your parents or supervisor, can obtain information about your visit without your permission. The Ombuds encourage parents and families to support students’ development of communication and problem-solving skills. While parents will find the staff friendly and helpful, it is best if the student contacts them directly.

Does the Ombudsperson ever participate in formal processes?

No, the ombudsperson operates informally. The office does not duplicate existing processes such as grievance procedures, judicial hearings, or other formal procedures. The Ombudsperson may look into whether proper procedures were followed, and bring to the attention of those in authority gaps and inadequacies in existing procedures.