California Northstate University College of Medicine (CNUCOM) is a private medical school established in 2008. The institution has multiple hospital affiliations and is one of the four colleges at CNU that offers MD programs. CNUCOM has a highly competitive admissions process and is selective about applicants. Medical students must demonstrate professional ethics and academic performance befitting of a future physician. Those who violate the Honor Code and cannot keep up academically face heavy consequences, including suspension and permanent dismissal.
It's no secret that medical students juggle multiple responsibilities with their challenging curriculums. Unfortunately, due to the pressure, some students falter – either struggling academically or committing mistakes that jeopardize their placement at CNUCOM. Without the guidance of an attorney advisor, students risk losing time, effort, scholarships, and even their dream of becoming a doctor.
Code of Conduct and Professionalism Policy
Professionalism is a core component of a competent physician's personality, and training starts at medical school. The Student Handbook outlines the institution's expectations regarding ethics, conduct, and academic performance to maintain a culture of respect and accountability. CNUCOM's professional standards apply both on and off-campus. In the Code of Conduct, the institution affirms its commitment to:
“Providing teaching, scholarly activity, research, and service in a professional manner. We display professional attitudes, values, and behaviors in the classroom, clinical clerkship sites, and the community. We encourage teamwork and team-based learning, with respect for differing points of view of team members. At the same time, we expect individual competence, performance, and accountability in a professional manner”.
Any member of the CNUCOM community who believes that a medical student is engaging in professional misconduct may file a Professionalism Concern Report (PCR). The report undergoes review by the Office for Student Affairs. If a student receives more than one PCR, CNUCOM adds them to a student's permanent record. The penalties for professional violations range from a formal warning to permanent dismissal. Fortunately, students have the chance to appeal sanctions.
Although some professional misconduct violations are the result of lapses in judgment, others are innocent mistakes. CNUCOM maintains that all students accused of violations have the right to due process and a fair review of their case. However, students who want an extra layer of protection against false allegations should seek guidance from an experienced professional misconduct advisor. An advisor's help may potentially decrease the likelihood of a severe sanction that prevents students from graduating on time.
Academic Underperformance and Remediation
The role of a doctor is sensitive and impacts the health of people and communities as a whole. Thus, doctors should not only be professional but competent, especially since patient lives are at stake. Therefore, CNUCOM requires medical students to master their courses and demonstrate a solid understanding of the material.
Students have a chance to make up some exams or complete remediation to improve their grades. Usually, the Student Promotions Committee at CNUCOM reviews each student's competence and performance. The Office of Medical Education receives recommendations from the SPC regarding advancement to the next phase of a student's curriculum. The SPC also creates an individualized remediation program for failing students and monitors their progress throughout the process.
Although some students find remediation burdensome and repetitive, it is necessary to progress academically and stay registered at CNUCOM. Those who fail to meet academic standards and cannot complete their remediation courses effectively receive a permanent dismissal from the program. As with professional misconduct allegations, medical students can also appeal their grades if they have evidence of injustice or improper evaluation.
Consequences of Expulsion
Medical students work hard to obtain their degrees, but one serious violation halts their progress and may cause permanent dismissal. An expelled medical student's chances of registering in another program are low – and in good medical schools, nearly impossible. No student enters medical school expecting dismissal due to a mistake. However, since institutions like CNUCOM want to maintain a stellar reputation and level the playing field for their students, they must enforce strict standards to set an example for others.
Some of the issues that dismissed students experience include:
- Having the expulsion charge listed on their permanent record
- Reputation damage that extends beyond medical school and can affect their career trajectory
- Rejection from other medical programs due to professionalism concerns
- Inability to apply for specific licenses
- Losing years of time and effort as they cannot pick up where they left off in a new program
- Financial difficulties arising from the loss of scholarships and unexpected out-of-pocket expenses
- Loss of morale that stops them from pursuing a medical degree
Despite these setbacks, students facing expulsion do have options. CNUCOM accepts appeals from students challenging an expulsion charge for academic incompetence and professional misconduct. Students must send their request to the Dean of the College of Medicine or speak to the Honor Council to determine the next steps. Although there are no guarantees, fighting violation charges with the help of attorney-advisor increases the chances of a favorable outcome.
Hiring an Attorney-Advisor
Medical school is an exciting time in a student's life that undoubtedly comes with challenges and setbacks. While most issues have a resolution, some have a permanent impact on the student's life. Although an advisor cannot directly engage with a panel or administration, their advice and guidance may decrease sanctions and prevent an expulsion charge from ruining a student's life.
Attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento stands by medical students and their families during this stressful time. Attorney Lento fights tirelessly to ensure that students receive due process and that they aren't victims to overzealous panels and procedural errors. With years of experience handling complex professional misconduct violation charges and expulsions due to academic underperformance, Advisor Lento knows what's at stake.
Don't let a professional misconduct violation or academic underperformance halt your career path and progress. Instead, call the Lento Law Firm today for a discreet and thorough consultation at 888-535-3686.