Dental Student Issues

To become a dentist, students have to attend four years of college, including a large number of science prerequisite courses. Then a prospective dentist must take competitive the competitive Dental Admissions Test, and go through a rigorous dental school application process. After four years of full-time dental school, students then complete a residency that lasts anywhere from two to four years. Dental students commit a great deal of time and energy into completing their chosen professional education. As a result, it can be devastating for a student to face accusations of misconduct.

A dental school's adverse decision during a disciplinary proceeding can end a prospective dentist's professional career. That's why it's good to consult an experienced and skilled dental student disciplinary attorney as soon as possible. If you are facing misconduct charges related to academic misconduct, Title IX charges, dental school remediation, or dismissal, suspension from school, or any issue that might affect your academic or professional future, seek help from an attorney immediately.

Student Disciplinary Issues for Dental Students and Other Fundamental Concerns

Throughout your dental education, you can face situations that may give rise to issues of concern. Everything from the interview, application, and admissions process to daily classes, social events, and graduation can give rise to alleged misconduct or potential issues which can derail a dental student's goals.

Some prospective dentists will face dental student issues like:

We can help with any of the above issues. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has handled thousands of educational discipline cases and appeals nationwide.

Academic Misconduct

An adverse academic misconduct charge can be devastating to your education and your future career. Consequences for a guilty finding can range from a failing grade to suspension, expulsion, and revoking a degree. If your dental school expels you, it can be nearly impossible to gain admission to another school.

Academic misconduct covers a wide range of behaviors but includes:

Cheating and plagiarism are actually pretty common, and it starts early. A survey of New England high school students in 2011, found that 95% of the students surveyed admitted to engaging in academic cheating during the last year. At the same time, more than 50% of those students agreed that cheating is morally wrong. In some cases, students cheat because they see others doing it. In others, fear of failure, procrastination, poor study habits, and a desire to get better grades motivate students. Some students may simply panic or lack confidence in their abilities. Still others may be facing personal problems, be hindered by disabilities, or be facing an illness. Finally, some students don't know or understand what encompasses plagiarism.

Accidental Plagiarism

Accidental plagiarism can also result in an academic misconduct charge. It can happen easily in certain circumstances:

  1. If you fail to clearly distinguish between your thoughts and the research of others while taking notes or doing your initial research.
  2. If you fail to cite paraphrased words or ideas of another.
  3. If you fail to carefully adapt quotations, changing the meaning of a quote.
  4. If you cut and paste on a computer while doing research.

Dental students can also face false accusations of academic misconduct from other students. Dental school is highly competitive, and sometimes jealous students make false claims. For example, if another student copies your work and then claims that you copied them, you could find yourself in the hot seat.

Hire an Academic Misconduct Attorney

When faced with an academic misconduct allegation, it can be challenging to know where to turn. You may think you can handle this yourself and clear up any misunderstanding. Schools may often allow dental students to "admit" wrongdoing in exchange for reduced sanctions or disciplinary consequences. Many students think that hiring a lawyer and asking for help will make them look guilty. In reality, contacting an academic misconduct or student disciplinary attorney is the best way to protect your rights and to ensure you receive the due process to which you are entitled.

Academic Misconduct Hearings

Facing an academic misconduct hearing can be intimidating, but your dental school should set forth the procedures in your student handbook or code of conduct documents. Every school's process will vary, but you will generally face a hearing before an administrator or before a panel. Sometimes an academic conduct hearing panel will contain administrators, staff, and students. The type of hearing you face may depend upon the circumstances and severity of the accusations and whether or not this is your first misconduct charge.

Panel hearings are generally somewhat more structured that meetings with an individual administrator. You will hear the charges against you, the evidence, and any witnesses. You should then have an opportunity to respond. The hearing panel will then deliberate and determine whether or not you are guilty of academic misconduct and what sanctions you should face.

Dental Student Academic Issues

Dental students may face sanctions for academic issues aside from academic misconduct. While not as immediately frightening as academic integrity issues, other issues may arise that impact your academic progress. You may be able to appeal an academic administration action against you if you've faced unequal treatment, unfairness, or discrimination. Attorney Joseph D. Lento regularly handles dental educational issues that include:

In every class, the professor should set forth the course's objective requirements and how they will determine grades. Standards should apply equally to all dental students. While occasional mistakes may happen, it may be up to you to point out grading or evaluation errors to your school. If necessary, you should consult an attorney. Your grades can directly affect your residency placement after dental school and your future career, as well as scholarships and grants. While everyone makes mistakes, in some cases, professors may intentionally apply subjective and arbitrary standards to coursework. A bad grade could be the result of bias, discrimination, harassment, or malice.

Disciplinary Violations for Dental Students

Not all disciplinary violations in dental school involve academic integrity. They can also include violating standards of professionalism, criminal acts, or other misconduct set out in the student code, including:

Dental students may also be subject to Title IX for sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, or sexual violence. Title IX is a federal civil right law passed as part of the Education Amendments of 1972 ("Title IX"), 20 U.S.C. §1681 et seq. prohibiting sex-based discrimination at federally funded educational institutions. Although the dental school's disciplinary policies and procedures will overlap with Title IX, federal law, and Title IX's accompanying regulations will determine much of the process for these violations. Title IX violations can include:

Local law enforcement may also charge dental students with crimes based on alleged behavior that happened on campus. Offenses under the law are often also violations of the student code of conduct. While the justice system has a high "beyond reasonable doubt" standard, dental schools do not use the same high standard to judge your conduct. It is possible for a school disciplinary hearing to expel you from dental school for behavior no jury would convict you of in a court of law.

Sanctions for misconduct violations can vary widely in dental school, depending on the type and severity of the infraction. Because the consequences of misconduct can seriously affect your academic and professional future, you should consult a student rights attorney as soon as possible.

Academic Appeals Process

While every school has its procedures for academic appeals, most only provide a limited time for academic appeals. If you need to challenge a test score or final grade, you may have a limited period after the school records the official grade. You may need to submit your appeal to a specific office or dean and include any substantive evidence you may have that the grade was incorrect, unfair, or unduly biased. You can check your student handbook for the appeals process, or contact the dental school dean's office. But, it's a good idea to discuss your situation with a student rights attorney to determine your options before appealing a dental school grade or academic determination.

Professionalism Concerns

Dentists, and therefore dental students, are held to a high standard of professionalism. The Principles of Ethics published by the American Dental Association sets forth the professional standards for dentists:

  1. Patient autonomy (self-governance): "The dentist has a duty to respect the patient's right to self-determination and confidentiality."
  2. Nonmaleficence (do no harm): "The dentist has a duty to refrain from harming the patient."
  3. Beneficence (do good): "The dentist has a duty to promote the patient's welfare."
  4. Justice (fairness): "The dentist has a duty to treat people fairly."
  5. Veracity (truthfulness): "The dentist has a duty to communicate truthfully."

Your dental school's curriculum will include classes on professionalism and dental ethics, including the values and standards for school and your professional life. Your school should set expectations, teach appropriate and inappropriate behavior, prevent inappropriate behavior, provide assessments of professionalism, and implement cultural change.

Violations of the dental professional code can be severe. You are no longer a college student with an immature mind. Your school will now hold you to professional standards in communication, responsibility, maturity, and respect. While an individual professor may address professionalism problems directly with you, they may also be required to report them to the dental school. In many cases, however, professionalism can be best taught with remediation and further education.

Dental Student Remediation

Dental school is not an easy endeavor and with reason. We hold dentists to high academic and professional standards because we entrust them with our health and livelihood. While many students who attend dental school are the academic cream of the crop and high achieving students in college, there can be an adjustment period in dental school. Likewise, dental students will face new challenges throughout their education and may falter at some point.

Dental schools understand the challenges students face, and most have established programs to help students before the school must take action. Remediation can include many things, including:

  • Retaking a course
  • Retaking a curriculum level assessment
  • Retaking a semester
  • Retaking an entire year

Concerns with Dental School Remediation Programs

While remediation in dental school is usually well-intentioned and designed to keep from losing a promising future dentist, it does result in additional time and sometimes great expense. However, programs that schools implement promptly and that encompass the whole student, including academic, mental health, and communication resources, are usually successful.

In some cases, when dental students face academic challenges, schools may not be aware of their obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (A.D.A.). They may not be providing students with the necessary accommodations. Even one oversight can seriously affect a dental student's academic and professional career. If you believe you are entitled to accommodations you aren't receiving under the A.D.A., you should contact a student rights attorney.

Dental Student Dismissals

Dismissal from dental school for academic or misconduct allegations can have severe and lasting consequences. If expelled from school, your academic and professional future is in jeopardy. Once dismissed, you may find it difficult, if not impossible, to enroll in another school. If you are facing possible dismissal from dental school, you should contact an attorney right away.

Dental Student Discipline Defense and Student Rights – Helping Clients Nationwide

Dental schools make mistakes and, unfortunately, it can be challenging to correct errors on your own. Contact attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 today for help. Joseph D. Lento has handled academic and other misconduct issues at thousands of schools across the country. Let him help you protect your academic and professional reputation.

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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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