Medical school in Alaska looks a bit different than in some of the eastern states. The University of Alaska Anchorage is part of the WWAMI medical education family. WWAMI is a collaborative medical school between Washington, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Alaska, and the University of Washington School of Medicine. Students take classes at the University of Alaska Anchorage for the first two years and then can do their clinical clerkships in any of the WWAMI states. Because WWAMI encompasses so many communities, the students are expected to meet incredibly high standards. Unfortunately, these hopes can cause normally calm students to exhibit abnormal behaviors that might put them in jeopardy of being dismissed.
Academic and Professionalism Policies for Alaska Medical Students
At the University of Alaska Anchorage, like at all medical schools, medical students are given student handbooks on the first day of classes. The handbook summarizes the rules students are supposed to follow. Usually, these rules cover the student's academic conduct and their professional duties. For instance, it asks the students to never cheat, plagiarize, or invent data on exams or assignments. It also informs students that they must maintain satisfactory grades and patient confidentiality.
When a student violates the policies in the handbook, they are referred to a promotions committee who will decide if they should be given a remediation plan, dismissed, or punished in another way. These punishments look like anything from a warning letter to suspension.
Remediation at Alaska Medical Schools
Graduating from medical school signals to internships and residencies that you can treat patients safely and effectively. Medical schools ensure this by testing their students frequently on both their medical expertise and professional abilities. Being constantly tested like this can cause extra stress for medical students. This extra stress may impede their test-taking abilities. Additionally, some medical students may not learn the same way as other students, i.e., they do better in a clinical environment than in the classroom, or vice versa.
To combat poor grades, medical schools allow students to remediate courses, exams, or clinical clerkships they've failed. But remediation must be successful before the medical school allows the student to progress. For example, at the University of Alaska Anchorage, if a student fails a Foundations Phase course, they have to retake it before they can take Step 1 of the USMLE. If the school notices a student still can't pass even after remediation, they will be recommended for dismissal.
Dismissal From an Alaska Medical Program
Typically, when a student is referred to the dismissal committee, the committee will review the student's entire file and then call for a hearing to discuss it. It is very important to show up to your dismissal hearing prepared to defend yourself. If you show up insufficiently prepared, it will be much harder to succeed.
Inadequate defenses have other unfortunate outcomes besides being dismissed from medical school. For instance, if you hope to attend another medical school in the future, you may not be able to transfer your current credits. That is, if you can get into another medical school. Medical schools are notoriously competitive with one another, and word travels fast. Other medical schools may learn of the incident and close their doors to you.
Additionally, if you are an Alaskan local and you are dismissed from the medical school program, you will have to find a school outside of the WWAMI organization, which could lead you very far from home. Having to leave your comfort zone and face further stress and anxiety can have disastrous effects on your mental health. Working with an attorney advisor is the best way to protect your dream of becoming a doctor in Alaska.
American medical schools are supposed to vote on policies and procedures that govern the behavior and graduation expectations of their students. These policies and procedures must be equal among students, no one can be singled out, and they can't be changed on a whim. More often than not, they will involve:
- Allowing a student to face their accuser in a disciplinary hearing.
- Giving them the opportunity to defend themselves in a hearing.
- Offering them the chance to join a remediation program.
- Giving them the opportunity to appeal committee decisions.
At the end of a hearing, whether it's about a remediation plan, a disciplinary action, or a dismissal, the committee overseeing it will determine what the next steps are. This decision will be mailed to you within a few days. It will also include a section on how to appeal – where the appeal should be submitted, what the deadline to submit is, and what to include in the appeal.
Many students get hung up on the decision in the letter and let the appeal date slide by. If you are facing a suspension or dismissal, it is very important that you pay attention to that date and appeal on time. Suspension and dismissals are marked on your transcripts. If you decide to apply to another program after your dismissal, those new schools will want to know the circumstances surrounding those transcript notations.
It's important to remember that if your appeal is denied there are alternative paths to resolution you might qualify for. An attorney advisor will be able to help you navigate these alternative approaches and contact the Office of General Counsel at your medical school to negotiate on your behalf. Most of the time, these negotiations are more successful than a lawsuit might be.
Alaska Medical Student Defense Advisor
Attorney advisors are experts in medical school defense. If you are brought before a committee to decide if you qualify for a remediation plan, and they deny it, an attorney advisor can act on your behalf to explain why you need one. If you are brought before a disciplinary committee, they will advocate on your behalf. And if your chances have been exhausted and you are standing before a dismissal committee, an attorney-advisor will gather evidence and witnesses and strategically defend your place in medical school. Your dream of becoming a doctor should be upheld. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team have years of experience working with students just like you. They can guarantee you the best possible outcome for your case, no matter the committee you're standing before. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your case or schedule a time online.