Allied health professionals serve as a significant component of the healthcare system. Like doctors and nurses, people dedicated to occupations like therapists, dieticians, and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) spend an immense amount of time and money to remain a part of the essential sector. The fast-paced career of an EMT will have devoted and enthusiastic individuals focused on saving lives and delivering care in emergency situations. However, before EMTs hit the streets of cities and counties across America, they must progress through various academic programs and in-the-field training while maintaining ethical behavior in their personal and professional lives.
EMT training programs are strict, and students must keep up with the latest science-based information and techniques to assist them in emergencies. At one of the many colleges and universities nationwide that provide burgeoning young adults with the education and training to become emergency responders, students must adhere to the institution's guidelines on academic progression, behavioral rules on campus, and acting as a respectable public professional that represents the program. Given the high-stakes nature of work an EMT must accomplish, there is little room for mistakes.
If you're accused of misconduct while training to become an EMT or during one of the many continuing education modules required to remain in the profession, don't handle it alone. Instead, focus on saving lives in your community and let a specialist handle the situation. Joseph D. Lento and his allied health defense team at the Lento Law Firm have the poise and finesse to defend students in stressful situations and understand how to protect you as an integral part of the medical community.
EMT Education and Training Challenges
Individuals striving to become emergency responders face not only life-threatening situations with patients and victims but from their actions inside and outside the classroom. In a profession that requires quick thinking, there is a myriad of ways you can find yourself in front of your school or program's disciplinary body, including:
- Academic Misconduct: cheating, copyright violations, failure to maintain satisfactory academic progress (SAP), lack of progression, multiple assignment submissions, plagiarism, research misconduct, and unauthorized collaboration
- Behavioral Misconduct: Alcohol or drug abuse, computer misuse, criminal activity, disobeying superiors, theft, unethical conduct, and violence or threats of violence
- Title IX or Sexual Misconduct: bullying, coercion, dating/domestic violence, gender or sexual discrimination, sexual assault or harassment, and stalking
- Professional Misconduct: breach of confidentiality, clinical errors, disrespecting colleagues, patient/victim abuse or neglect, scientific incompetence, and truancy
Regardless of where you're alleged to have committed misconduct, each school, program, or training circuit will have guidelines for remaining in good standing. Typically, students and professional EMTs will be instructed on locating information regarding infractions and subsequent disciplinary action as a part of matriculation or the employee onboarding process.
Academic misconduct occurs in EMT programs, just as in other educational programs. While EMT training is focused on CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation), ECC (Emergency Cardiovascular Care), AED (Automated External Defibrillator) use, and other hands-on tactics, there is still traditional, paper-and-pencil classwork that must be accomplished. Therefore, the rules of conventional academics apply.
For example, at the College of Central Florida's program dedicated to teaching and training EMTs, their Academic Integrity/Honor Code policies state the following are prohibited:
- Bribery: Offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting any materials, items, or services of value to gain academic advantage for oneself or another
- Cheating: The unauthorized taking or tendering of any information or material used or intended to use for academic credit
- Conspiracy: Planning or acting with one or more persons to commit any form of academic dishonesty to gain academic advantage for oneself or another
- Fabrication: Use of invented or fictitious information or the falsification of research or other findings with the intent to deceive for academic advantage
- Misrepresentation: Any act with intent to deceive an instructor or other college official for academic advantage
- Plagiarism: Taking ideas from another and passing them off as one's own, whether the ideas are published, unpublished, or the work of another student
Institutions providing EMT training will also have policies to ensure student academic progress. At Navarro College—like other schools offering EMT programs—students must maintain satisfactory academic progress (SAP) throughout their journey toward graduation. Much of these stipulations are tied to federal financial aid and may not be subjected to an appellate process.
However, before EMT students and trainees risk probation, suspension, or expulsion, they will encounter steps to mitigate academic decline. Progression issues are commonly met by remediation. Each school or program has different policies as to how remedial courses or rotations are monitored, but it's typical for students to be mandated to pass retaken classes while engaged in the current work. Usually, students risk suspension if remediation is unsuccessful.
EMT programs don't only have academic standards. They also maintain behavioral codes that ensure their students are trustworthy emergency responders that will serve the public with distinction. Therefore, institutional rules will govern life outside campus and field training.
For instance, if you're enrolled in the EMT training program at Western Carolina University, the following behaviors are not permitted:
- Alcohol or drug violations: Possessing or consuming alcoholic beverages by a person under the age of 21 or aiding and abetting those who seek to in authorized areas, and illegal possession or use of controlled substances
- Disorderly Conduct: Engaging in "objectively disruptive behavior," such as behavior that a "reasonable person" would consider to be especially "offensive or obscene in nature" or has a substantial negative effect on a university living or learning environments
- False Information: Knowingly providing false or misleading information to or about other campus community members
- Illegal Gambling: Gambling for money or other things of value, except as permitted by law
- Material and Substantial Disruption: Interference of an individual or group's lawful exercise of speech or expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment
Title IX and Sexual Misconduct
As an emergency responder, physical contact is necessary to assist victims in need. EMTs are trained on the proper techniques used in the field through demonstrations in the classroom regarding appropriate physical touch. Considering real-life situations may be dire in nature, healthcare organizations caution patients and victims that may misconstrue the care they're being given with unwanted sexual advances.
However, sexual misconduct does occur. Schools and programs have strict rules and regulations on physical touch, and since many are funded through the federal government, they will also have Title IX guidelines that must be obeyed.
According to the University of California, Los Angeles' regulations, Title IX covers the following discriminatory practices:
- Dating/Domestic violence
- False Title IX reporting
- Sexual assault, discrimination, and exploitation
- Withholding Title IX evidence or information
Nevertheless, even non-collegiate EMT training programs will be governed by Title IX. For example, students enrolled in the various courses provided through the Connecticut Department of Public Health will be briefed on Title IX's purview. Allegations can quickly derail your career and reputation, and states often require violations and even investigation of dismissed cases to be public records.
Although individual schools and training programs will have guidelines on how EMT students must behave as a member of their community, there is also a nationwide code of conduct dedicated to upholding the ethical practice of EMTs. The National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) maintains the professional status of licensed EMTs, which must abide by the following:
- Assume responsibility for upholding standards of professional practice and education
- Conserve life, alleviate suffering, promote health, do no harm, and encourage the quality and equal availability of emergency medical care
- Participate in matters of legislation and regulation affecting EMS
- Provide services unrestricted by consideration of nationality, race, creed, color, or status, nor allow the patient's socioeconomic status to influence care
- Refuse to participate in unethical procedures and expose incompetence or unethical conduct of others
- Respect and hold in confidence all information obtained in the course of professional service unless required by law to divulge such information
- Responsible and professional use of social media
- Using professional knowledge and skills to promote public well-being
- Work cooperatively with allied healthcare professionals for the patient's best interest
Academic and Behavioral Misconduct Disciplinary Hearings
If you're an EMT student or trainee alleged to have committed misconduct, you will enter one of the most stressful points in your academic career. Not only is the grievance process intimidating, but each school or program also handles the process slightly differently.
At Idaho State University, academic misconduct and other minor infractions are handled as follows:
- If an instructor or supervisor is aware of student misconduct, they may use an informal method to address it, which is supervised by the Department of Academic Affairs or the Office of the Dean of Students.
- Students will be given at least three school days to set a meeting with the instructor to discuss the allegations.
- If the instructor concludes that misconduct has occurred, they must inform the accused student in writing within ten school days following the face-to-face meeting, including any sanctions imposed.
Yet, there is a formal process to manage more serious infractions. Typically, these carry with them the notion of intent or extreme subversive action.
- The university's Academic Dishonesty Board or Office of the Dean of Students will set a date for a formal hearing, giving students "sufficient time" to review all evidence collected.
- The accused (respondent) may make an opening statement to the Board.
- The Board will hear the accuser's (complainant) testimony regarding the misconduct.
- Following the hearing, the Board will vote on whether to impose sanctions or dismiss the charges based on a majority vote.
Title IX and Sexual Misconduct Disciplinary Hearings
If a student is alleged to have committed misconduct in a sexual or discriminatory manner, the process to handle the violation is different and uses another distinct set of authorities, even at the same school. For example, the Title IX grievance process at Idaho State University is as follows:
- The Chairperson or Hearing Facilitator will introduce the hearing and discuss evidence gathered by the Investigator, or anything else they determine is relevant and credible.
- The complainant and respondent will make an opening statement to the disciplinary body.
- Each party or their advisor will cross-examine the other party and witnesses.
- Members of the body may question the parties and their witnesses.
- The complainant and respondent will make any rebuttals or closing remarks.
- The Decision-maker will base their determination of responsibility on a standard of "more likely than not."
If you're subject to harsh penalties for alleged misconduct, you'll want to exhaust every outlet to redress the situation. You've spent much time and hard-earned money to become an emergency responder.
Most—if not all—schools and programs give students and trainees the opportunity for an appeal. For instance, Duke University allows appeals in a small number of cases.
- New information emerges not reasonably available at the time of the hearing that is material to the hearing panel's decision
- Procedural error(s) that materially impacted the hearing panel's decision
However, students working to become EMTs aren't versed in college bylaws and regulations. Moreover, the time for appeals is typically short—one week or less. Therefore, unless you want your career as an EMT to slip away, hire a professional student defense advisor to keep you intact with your EMT program.
How Joseph D. Lento Can Defend You
You need professional assistance if you are alleged to have committed misconduct or have issues with progression in your program. Student defense advisor Joseph D. Lento and his team at the Lento Law Firm have handled disciplinary matters involving such violations in hundreds of schools and programs across the U.S.
While you may believe a local attorney is your best option, courtroom competency doesn't often translate into the finesse needed to negotiate with educational authorities. Joseph D. Lento and his team know how to help sanctioning bodies see positive options serving the student and the school or program far better than suspension or expulsion and can broker beneficial resolutions on behalf of student clients with a school's internal Office of General Counsel (OGC). For expert advice, call 888-535-3686 to discuss how your defense can begin or use the online consultation form.