ACH Policies

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ACH Policy Text

If you are interested in diving deeper into the ACH policies, please review them below. For questions or comments, please Contact Us

The Academy of Communication in Healthcare (ACH) has committed to improving healthcare through relationship centered communication, but historically we have failed to incorporate racial justice as a pillar upon which high quality and humanistic health care rests. We have erred, and we commit to change. Lives depend upon our actions.

ACH strongly condemns racist violence targeting Black people in the United States, whether committed by law enforcement or the healthcare system. We are outraged by the brutal killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others. We affirm our solidarity with Black people and oppressed communities throughout this country, especially as we join in calls for justice and dismantling structural racism.

As the ACH board of directors, we:

  1. affirm the intrinsic value and dignity of every person and reject actions, words, or attitudes that devalue or harm anyone based on the social constructs of race or other biases.
  2. recognize police brutality and any form of racism against Black communities to be a grave and chronic public health issue that must change.  
  3. recognize the central role of effective, relationship-centered communication in creating an anti-racist culture within our health professions and in clinical practice.
  4. call upon ourselves and our members to stand united against all forms of racism, including structural racism in healthcare, to speak out individually and collectively, and to actively become part of the solution in order to promote wellbeing for all.  

ACH is committed to taking actionable steps to address racism and promote equity and justice within our organization and for the communities we serve.  We invite your input and ongoing feedback regarding these actions and our effectiveness.   

Examples of current and anticipated steps include:

  1. restructuring of the ACH Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee to formally integrate a DEI focus into all committees
  2. deliberate attention to diversification of the Leadership Development Committee, which nominates all board and executive committee members, and ongoing attention to the revision of its processes with the goal of leadership diversification
  3. revision of ACH fellow criteria to explicitly value contributions that center equity
  4. professional development activities designed to enhance ACH faculty skill in effectively mentoring faculty trainees of color
  5. continued commitment to course scholarships that prioritize racially under-represented groups and are not contingent on financial need
  6. ongoing development and dissemination of curricula to support racially equitable communication in patient and team encounters
  7. board strategic planning in October 2020 facilitated by Mission Partners, a consultant chosen for their expertise in centering organizational equity

    This list is incomplete and requires our continued attention. We invite you to provide your input through the online form located on the right side of the page.

The Academy of Communication in Healthcare has a zero tolerance policy for unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation or military status, in any of its activities or operations. These activities include, but are not limited to, selection of volunteers and vendors, and provision of services. 

We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our staff, clients, members, volunteers, subcontractors, and vendors. 

It is the policy of the Academy of Communication in Healthcare that all participants in Academy activities will enjoy an environment free from all forms of illegal discrimination, harassment and retaliation. As a professional society, the Academy of Communication in Healthcare is committed to providing an atmosphere that encourages the free expression and exchange of ideas. In pursuit of that ideal, the Academy of Communication in Healthcare is dedicated to the philosophy of equality of opportunity and treatment for all members, regardless of gender, gender identity or expression, race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion or religious belief, age, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities, or veteran status. Harassment, sexual or otherwise, is a form of misconduct that undermines the integrity of meetings. Violators of this policy will be subject to discipline.

Definition of Discrimination: Discrimination refers to bias or prejudice resulting in denial of opportunity, or unfair treatment regarding selection, promotion, or transfer. Discrimination is practiced commonly on the grounds of age, disability, ethnicity, origin, political belief, race, religion, sex, etc. factors which are irrelevant to a person's competence or suitability.

Definition of Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment refers to behavior that is not welcome, is personally offensive, debilitates morale and, therefore, interferes with work effectiveness. It does not refer to occasional compliments of a socially acceptable nature.

Sexual harassment may include: 

  • Unwelcome sexual advances
  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Sexual flirtations, advances, or propositions
  • Verbal comments or physical actions of a sexual nature
  • Sexually degrading words used to describe an individual
  • A display of sexually suggestive objects or pictures
  • Sexually explicit jokes
  • Unnecessary touching or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature

Definition of Other Harassment: Harassment on the basis of any other protected characteristic is also strictly prohibited. This conduct may include, but is not limited, to the following: 

  • Epithets, slurs, or negative stereotyping
  • Threatening, intimidating or hostile acts
  • Display or circulation of written or graphic material that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group

Definition of Retaliation
Retaliation refers to taking some action to negatively impact another based on them reporting an act of discrimination or harassment.

Scope of Policy
This policy applies to all attendees at Academy of Communication in Healthcare activities, including attendees, guests, staff, vendors, and exhibitors, participating in the sessions, tours, and social events of any Academy of Communication in Healthcare meeting or other activity.

Behavior and language that are welcome/acceptable to one person may be unwelcome/offensive to another. Consequently, individuals must use discretion to ensure that their words and actions communicate respect for others. This is especially important for those in positions of authority since individuals with lower rank or status may be reluctant to express their objections or discomfort regarding unwelcome behavior.

For more information on recognizing and responding to harrassment, click here

Reporting Form

The Academy of Communication in Healthcare (ACH) is committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our staff, clients, volunteers, subcontractors, and vendors. This form is provided for individuals who have experienced or witnessed behavior in conflict with the Association Anti-Harassment and Discrimination Policy. Please complete the form to the best of your ability. ACH is committed to a thorough response to any claims of harassing or discriminatory behavior and support for complainant(s); anonymous reporting or not providing all details may impact ACH’s ability to respond effectively. 

Upon completion of the form, it will submit to ACH Executive Director, Nick Ruffin. If you would prefer to print this form and personally submit, you are invited to email it to the ACH Executive Director and/or President.


“Complainant” means the member, conference attendee, guest, staff member, vendor or exhibitor who experienced the harassment or discrimination.

Complaint Information

Are you the Complainant?
Complainant Identity
Complainant's Name
Please enter the Complainant’s name, if known:
Complainant’s Relationship With ACH
Relationship With ACH
Other Identifying Or Contact Info
Please enter the Respondent’s name, if known: “Respondent” means the member, conference attendee, guest, staff member, vendor, exhibitor or third party who committed the reported behavior.

Incident Information

MM slash DD slash YYYY
Time of Incident
Please include a brief description of the location
Tell Us What Happened Please provide a description of the incident/conduct you are reporting using specific, concise, descriptive language (who, what, where, when, and how).
MM slash DD slash YYYY
Submitter Name

The Board of the ACH recognizes that external funds may be an important source of support for enhancing the number and breadth of educational programs that we offer, and may help reduce financial barriers to participation.  The Board is also very mindful of the potential for conflicts of interest to arise, regardless of whether the source of funding is a commercial corporation, a nonprofit foundation, or a government entity.  Conflicts of interest are common and not by themselves unethical, but if not handled appropriately they can harm the reputations of the Academy, its individual members, and its donors.  With these considerations in mind, the Board establishes the following policy regarding acceptance and disclosure of external funds.

  1. The ACH may receive funds from commercial, nonprofit and government sources to support educational programs that contribute directly to fulfilling the Academy's mission. (Note that this policy does not address funding for research projects.)
  2. The ACH must retain full control over educational content, teaching materials, speaker selection and all other aspects of any program that is supported partially or fully by external funding.
  3. The Board Vice President serving as the liaison to the planning committee of the ACH course or program shall provide guidance before accepting any external funds. Non-profit supporter applications will be reviewed and accepted/denied by the applicable Board Vice President. For-profit supporter applications will be reviewed and accepted/denied by the Executive Committee.  Any questions, challenges or disputes that arise over the appropriateness of a given source of external funding for a given program shall be referred to the ACH Executive Committee which shall have ultimate authority for deciding such matters.
  4. Decisions regarding distribution of materials and participation of representatives of funding organizations shall be made by the Board Vice President serving as the liaison to the planning committee of each program (1) in accordance with this policy and (2) with principal regard for maintaining the quality and integrity of the program and the participants' experience.  Any questions, challenges or disputes about the appropriateness of materials or participation by representatives shall be referred to the Executive Committee, which shall have ultimate authority for deciding such matters.
  5. The ACH will disclose all sources of external financial support in the form of an acknowledgment in writing (e.g.: on the program brochure or cover page of program handouts).
  6. A report listing the amount and source of all supporter funding received by the Academy will be included in the ACH's monthly financial report. Any ACH member may, upon request, receive a comprehensive listing of supporters and the amount of support for a program or course.
  7. The Academy will adhere to the ACCME Standards for Commercial Support to ensure independence in CME activities. 

*A commercial interest is any entity producing, marketing, re-selling, or distributing health care goods or services consumed by, or used on, patients. The ACCME does not consider providers of clinical service directly to patients to be commercial interests.


  • All materials and content must be pre-approved by ACH and the accrediting institution.
  • Educational content cannot be influenced or altered by the supporter.

Approved 3/20/03
Amended 12/14, 1/15, 10/15

Pursuant to IRS Regulations, it is the policy of the Academy of Communication in Healthcare (ACH) to allow public access to its original exemption application and to its IRS Form 990.  In addition, ACH will make copies of its governing documents, conflict of interest policy/disclosures, and year-end financial statements available to the public.  This access will be provided at ACH's principal headquarters offices at a time mutually agreeable between its headquarters and the individual requesting the inspection during regular business hours.  In addition, ACH will make each Form 990 information return available for a period of 3 years from filing.  Headquarters will provide a copy of the exemption application or Form 990 without charge, other than a reasonable fee for reproduction and actual postage costs, as applicable.  The copy must include all information furnished to the IRS as well as all schedules, attachments, and supporting statements, except for the name and address of any contributor to the organization.  For further detailed information regarding these IRS requirements, refer to the General Instructions for Form 990.

When applicable, Form 990-T, Unrelated Business Income Tax Return, is a tax return, not an information return, and ACH [a 501(c)(3)] is not obligated to provide this information to the public.

Minutes from the Board of Directors meetings are available to members upon request.