A.T. Still University, School of Osteopathic Medicine

It takes a special sort of person to work in the medical profession. The public expects doctors and nurses to do absolutely everything in their power to banish sickness and disease. They must be continual learners; they must always be on-call, day and night; they must be committed to helping everyone, not just those they get along with. It's no surprise, then, that medical schools hold their students to the highest expectations.

A.T. Still's School of Osteopathic Medicine (SOMA) takes this commitment to excellence even further. One of the more unique aspects of SOMA is its commitment to serving underserved populations. The school's website notes that it doesn't just graduate healthcare professionals; it graduates “compassionate” healthcare professionals. Fulfilling that mission requires holding students to the highest possible academic and ethical standards.

No one's perfect, though, not even doctors. Making a mistake shouldn't necessarily jeopardize your future. If you feel you're being treated unfairly, or if you're involved in a misunderstanding that threatens to derail your medical school career, remember that there is help out there. An attorney advisor who specializes in student defenses can help you get back on track.

Academic and Professional Standards

As an ATSU-SOMA student, you are expected to abide by two separate sets of standards, the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Behavioral Standards.

  • Code of Academic Conduct: Here, the school lists a number of possible violations, many you might expect to encounter at any institution of higher learning, such as cheating and plagiarism. In addition, though, ATSU-SOMA lists offenses such as failing to appear before the University when called to testify and misusing University technology.
  • Code of Behavioral Standards: Here again, many of the examples that the school lists are typical of any school, such as harassment, property damage, and drug use. In keeping with the school's mission, though, this code also lists as potential offenses things like criminal convictions and violating the rules of any off-campus business or agency as potential offenses. In short, how you conduct yourself outside of class is just as important as what you do in class.

The SOMA dean has initial responsibility for investigating violations of either of these policies. Ultimately, however, cases come before the Student Performance Committee (SPC), which has the power to sanction. Sanctions can include consultations, academic warnings, academic probation, suspension, and dismissal.


Medical schools don't want students to fail. Failure reflects poorly on the school's admissions standards as well as its faculty's ability to teach. As a result, the SPC will typically work with a student who's in academic distress to develop a remediation plan to address deficiencies. ATSU-SOMA offers remediation programs four times during the year:

  • End of the Fall Break
  • End of the Winter Break
  • End of Spring Break
  • Conclusion of the academic year

You should know, though, that remediation is not only time-consuming but costly. Further, if a remediation should appear on your academic record, it could hurt your job prospects. In some cases, you may have better choices, such as appealing a grade. Before you agree to any remediation plan, you should contact a qualified attorney-advisor, someone who understands your school's system, to discuss what other options might be available to you.


While ATSU-SOMA may do what it can to help you when you are in academic distress, the school is not above dismissing you from the program. This can happen if the SPC decides you cannot keep up academically or if you commit an especially egregious violation of the school's behavioral standards. A dismissal is never an easy prospect. The effects can be brutal and long-lasting.

  • Trouble resuming your medical education: Once you've been dismissed from one program, you may find it difficult to enroll in another. You will find many schools are simply unwilling to take a chance on you.
  • Loss of academic progress: Even if you are able to secure a place at another institution, you may have to begin at the beginning.
  • Permanent transcript notation: Even if you manage to re-enroll and graduate, your original dismissal may very well appear on your academic record. You could graduate with honors and still have trouble establishing your career.
  • Student debt: You know what the score is when it comes to loans. If you're dismissed, you can find yourself paying for an education you weren't able to complete.

The good news is you have the right to appeal SPC decisions. ATSU doesn't place any restrictions on the reason for an appeal, but you must file within seven days of learning the committee's decision.

You should never simply accept a sanction, but if you've been dismissed, you owe it to yourself to fight for your future. An attorney-advisor who has experience with student cases can help you prepare a defense, write up materials, and negotiate with decision-makers.

Hiring an Attorney-Advisor

We all make mistakes. Maybe you've made one as a student. Maybe your school has made one and accused you of something you didn't actually do. Don't give up your medical career because of a misunderstanding or because you have been through a rough patch. An attorney can help. They can guide you through the many nuances of your school's justice procedures and make sure you're treated fairly.

Joseph D. Lento is a fully licensed, fully qualified defense attorney. He isn't just any defense attorney, though. He specializes in student rights and defending students in school disciplinary matters. He's helped hundreds of medical students across the country appeal grades, remove negative evaluations from their records, and overturn dismissals.

Don't just accept what happens to you. Fight for your rights. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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