The American University of Antigua College of Medicine (AUA) fosters a vibrant community that trains medical students to provide quality care to underserved communities. AUA collaborates with multiple universities globally, including historically black colleges and universities in the US. Students graduating from AUA have numerous career opportunities and can practice in the US, Canada, the UK, India, and worldwide. The College of Medicine has an immersive curriculum that encourages collaboration and innovation between students and their mentors. However, the administration also enforces professional conduct and ethical behavior standards that incur hefty sanctions if violated.
The responsibilities of personal life, combined with the general stress of medical school and the pace of training, can take a toll on students physically and psychologically. Even an unintentional violation of AUA's rules can lead to a disciplinary hearing. If not resolved appropriately, sanctions imposed by the panel can impact the student's career and delay their dream of becoming a doctor. Without the help of an advisor, students could lose years of time and effort due to an unfair or baseless allegation.
Code of Conduct
AUA College of Medicine expects students to adhere to the Code of Behavioral Conduct, enforced by the Professional Standards Committee. As future doctors, medical students must maintain high standards of professionalism and integrity. The Code is explicit about what constitutes violations and outlines the administrative procedures of the hearing.
The standards of professional conduct stipulate that medical students at AUA must:
“Maintain the highest level of ethics and morals and conduct themselves in a manner befitting a physician. Professionalism includes appearance and proper hygiene, demeanor, behavior and conduct, integrity, intellectualism, honesty, and respect for others. Students must be aware at all times that they are representing the university on and off-campus. These standards apply to students during their entire medical education at the University”.
The Office of Student Affairs initially receives the allegations. After review, the office determines whether to proceed with a hearing or dismiss the charges. The Professional Standards Committee investigates allegations of behavioral misconduct and is not responsible for remediation or academic performance. Less-severe violations incur a grade deduction, while more severe violations incur a warranted dismissal, and the incident remains on the student's permanent record.
AUA College of Medicine has high expectations of academic performance. The student handbook contains a detailed policy that outlines grade expectations. Academic performance also determines whether a student continues to receive federal financial aid. At the end of the academic year, student grades undergo evaluation. Students must maintain a satisfactory average to proceed to the next phase of the program.
Students who do not perform well can enroll in the Academic Success Program, which focuses on improving their grades. AUA does not cover the additional costs incurred if a student requires remediation. Although the extra courses may be burdensome, they are a student's last chance to remain in medical school and not have to withdraw from the program permanently.
Expulsion is a last-resort sanction reserved for egregious violations of the Behavioral Code or chronic academic underperformance. Permanent dismissal has multiple negative impacts that extend beyond starting over, however. Although the decision to expel a student is not one the panel takes lightly, mistakes can happen, or the student may not receive due process.
Some of the issues that a medical student encounters due to an expulsion include:
- Difficulty in re-enrollment: Students thinking of starting another program may have to face multiple rejections before starting another program. With a permanent dismissal charge on a permanent record, admissions officers may hesitate to proceed with an application.
- Significant academic delays: The time it takes to complete a medical degree is a daunting prospect for most students wishing to become doctors. With a permanent dismissal, years of academic progress become obsolete. Students must start over regardless of where they left off.
- Heavy financial repercussions: If students need a visa and already have student loans, they must now spend additional funds to enroll in another program. An expulsion significantly delays student progress. The financial burden can become too debilitating for students to continue.
Three days after a hearing ends, the panel sends the recommended sanctions to the Executive Dean. The Executive Dean may accept, reject, or modify the decision depending on the evidence and findings. Students receive a notice of the results in writing. Fortunately, students can appeal the decision if it includes probation, suspension, or dismissal. Students must submit a written appeal to the President within 14 days of receiving notice from the Executive Dean. The President may decide to modify the sanction, dismiss it, or increase the severity of sanctions before making a final decision. Students cannot appeal the President's decision once finalized.
Drafting an appeal is a critical step in the process that may positively impact the case outcome. Although an advisor or legal representative cannot participate in this process, their advice is invaluable during this critical time. An advisor like Joseph D. Lento can identify fair treatment or if the panel makes errors. With the right defense strategy and the expertise of a qualified professional, medical students have a chance of receiving a favorable case outcome and can continue their studies uninterrupted.
Hiring an Attorney-Advisor
Medical school is an immensely gratifying yet challenging period in a student's life. Things can go wrong in the blink of an eye. Whether the allegations are false or exaggerated, the charges impact graduation time and are an obstacle to starting one's medical career. With an allegation of behavioral misconduct or academic underperformance, students lose years of time and effort studying to become future medical professionals. No student deserves to face this critical time in their educational path alone.
If you or a family member face allegations of behavioral misconduct at AUA College of Medicine, don't hesitate to fight back. Your medical career and reputation are on the line, and so are your future career prospects. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 for a thorough consultation about your options.