“Dismissal” from a medical residency is synonymous with terms like “termination” and “firing.” However, your program refers to the removal of a medical resident from the program, and you should know that the consequences of such dismissal are significant.
You've reached the stage of medical residency, so you've got the requisite intelligence to understand that dismissal is an outcome to avoid. The question becomes: how?
Hiring a credible, experienced attorney-advisor is a strong first step in avoiding termination from your residency program. The Lento Law Firm has experience helping medical residents resume their careers after facing dismissal scares. We will fight for the best possible outcome for you.
Offenses Which May Trigger a Dismissal from Medical Residency
Medical residency may differ from medical school in several ways, but perhaps not this one: the alleged offenses that may trigger dismissal from medical school may also result in dismissal from your residency program. Such offenses may include:
- Alleged unprofessional conduct: Your residency may consider egregious or chronic disrespect towards superiors, fellow residents, or patients to be a dismissal-worthy offense. Lack of requisite medical knowledge, endangering patients, chronic tardiness, and other forms of unprofessional behavior may also contribute to a dismissal.
- Alleged sexual misconduct: Medical residency programs are as sensitive to alleged sexual impropriety as any other institution. It is vital that you receive due process in the face of allegations of impropriety. You should certainly not be deemed guilty or dismissed without a proper defense.
- Alleged fraud or dishonesty: Those accused of misrepresenting their credentials, stealing others' ideas, fabricating data, or engaging in other types of dishonesty or fraud may face dismissal.
- Misuse of drugs or alcohol: The line between appropriate use of alcohol and prescribed medications can be difficult to establish, especially when residents face long hours and stressful work conditions. If your residency program determines that you've crossed the line into substance abuse, then it may choose to dismiss you.
- Professional underperformance: A residency program may determine that, for whatever reason, you lack the skill or knowledge necessary to complete its training regimen.
Other circumstances could also lead your residency program to dismiss you—or, at least, to attempt to dismiss you. An effective attorney could be the difference between an attempted and an actual dismissal.
Consequences of Dismissal from a Medical Residency Program
Dismissal from your residency program is certain to alter your life. The ways in which a dismissal hinders your professional and personal goals can vary from one case to the next. At the very least, dismissal from a residency program will:
- Diminish you as a job candidate: If you gain admission to another residency program after dismissal, then you may eventually become licensed to practice medicine. However, prospective employers will notice your dismissal from your current residency program and will not view it positively. You may still make a long, fulfilling career in medicine—but a dismissal won't make this goal any easier to attain.
- Require you to re-complete the residency application process: Dismissal will likely mean having to restart the residency application process, under less-than-ideal circumstances. You may find re-application to residency programs post-dismissal to be time-consuming, humbling, and generally distasteful.
There are other possible consequences of dismissal from your residency program. You may:
- Face the end of your medical career: Resuming your medical residency post-dismissal may not be possible. Whether due to finances, the nature of allegations against you, or other circumstances, a dismissal could be tantamount to the end of your medical career.
- Face significant personal issues: Dismissal is never easy for anyone to accept, particularly when you've worked long and hard to get where you are in your residency program. You may not realize the full psychological and emotional toll of a dismissal until years down the road.
- Earn less and experience a less fulfilling medical career: Reputations matter in the medical field. Your reputation may directly affect the professional opportunities available to you. With fewer opportunities, you may have less say in how your career unfolds.
These are all logical aftereffects of a dismissal from your medical residency program, not far away possibilities. It is imperative that you fight with all available resources to avoid such weighty consequences.
Disciplinary Proceedings for Medical Residency Programs
Each medical residency program publishes rules and procedures, including those that may lead to your dismissal. The University of Minnesota Medical School (UMMS) serves as an example of one residency program's disciplinary protocols.
UMMS literature notes that, in cases where you're facing dismissal because of poor academic performance, you must have the chance to “remedy the deficiencies.” The university also offers a grievance process for any resident who receives discipline for academic performance-related reasons.
In cases of possible dismissal, including those stemming from non-academic offenses, the University of Minnesota Medical School will:
- Notify the resident facing possible dismissal: A representative of the University or hospital will notify the resident who is facing possible termination from the program. In certain cases, the representative may notify the resident of who has made allegations against them.
- Allow the resident to respond to any allegations against them: Residents have the chance to “appear in person to respond to the allegations.” It is not apparent with whom the resident will discuss allegations, as this may vary on a case-by-case basis.
- Charge the appropriate medical school Department head with handling discipline: In levying discipline, the Department head (or their designee) will provide a written explanation as to why they've ruled how they've ruled. Before issuing a ruling, the Department head may meet with witnesses, review evidence, and provide the resident the chance to respond to these elements of the case.
A resident at UMMS can contest any discipline against them, including a dismissal. This may trigger an appeal hearing. While an attorney-advisor can be helpful in all aspects of the medical residency disciplinary process, they may be especially useful when it comes to appeals.
Appealing a Ruling of Dismissal from Your Residency Program
Dismissal is the most severe discipline that a medical resident can face. It is, therefore, a form of discipline that you must absolutely appeal. Most, if not all, medical residency programs provide you the opportunity to appeal a ruling of dismissal.
The University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine provides an extensive layout of appeal proceedings for residents facing dismissal.
The resident may become aware of their dismissal through written notice penned by the Program Director. Residents have fourteen calendar days from the receipt of their notice of dismissal in which to file a written letter of appeal to the appropriate office. The letter of appeal must contain:
- The reason for appeal
- Any “objective evidence” related to the appeal (or a description of such evidence if it cannot be included)
- Any documentation related to the appeal
The Senior Associate Dean of the Medical Education Office will then appoint a committee of “at least three people,” composed of faculty, chairpersons, and program directors. This ad hoc Appeal Committee will review the evidence and then complete a meeting with the resident within fourteen calendar days of its appointment.
The resident may have an attorney-advisor at their side during the appeal meeting. However, the resident must speak for themself. The resident may:
- Examine the file that lists the alleged transgressions of the resident
- Make an oral presentation in their defense, explaining their reason for appeal and making any other salient points
- Use their presentation time to address any specific evidence or witness testimony
USF Morsani School of Medicine literature notes that this hearing “is not a legal proceeding” and does not conform to rigid rules or allowances. Having an attorney assist you during such fluid circumstances may be even more important, as they may provide advice based on the direction that the hearing takes.
Your residency program may conduct its appeal hearings differently than USF Morsani School of Medicine. In your case, your attorney-advisor may be able to speak on your behalf, not just accompany you to the hearing.
Regardless of your residency program's specific proceedings, an attorney can be an immense asset to your case.
What Should You Do If You're Facing Possible Dismissal from a Medical Residency Program?
Hiring an experienced and trustworthy attorney may be the most important step right now. Regardless of where you find yourself in the disciplinary process, you should not wait to hire a qualified attorney-advisor. You may seek an attorney-advisor who:
- Has experience with medical residency issues
- Is passionate about defending aspiring professionals
- Has the resources necessary to provide a strong defense
- Has a strong reputation among former clients
Consider Joseph D. Lento as your advisor. He and the Lento Law Firm fight passionately for medical residents facing discipline—they specialize in this area, and you'll struggle to find a firm more wholly committed to the cause.
What the Lento Law Firm Can Do for You
Our law firm will move quickly to compose your case and will:
- Familiarize ourselves with your residency program's disciplinary procedures
- Identify all upcoming events and deadlines in your case
- Review all existing evidence in your case and gather any available new evidence
- Parse witness testimony, drawing any conclusions that are relevant to your case
- Identify any witnesses who have yet to be interviewed (and conduct those interviews)
- Establish contact with leaders of your residency program, exploring the possibility of a quick resolution
- Prepare you for any hearings, meetings, or other proceedings in your case
We'll accompany you to all case-related meetings, rules permitting. We will also take a leading role in your defense, including speaking on your behalf when possible and appropriate.
Perhaps most importantly, we will defend your rights and ensure due process. With our team on your side, you won't have to worry about:
- Your residency program conducting a hasty or biased disciplinary process
- Investigators or committee members coercing statements or misrepresenting your word
- Missing the opportunity to appeal an adverse ruling
- Any other form of injustice
Our experience representing other medical residents is invaluable. We understand how much is on the line for you, and we'll fight for you as if you were our own sibling or child.
We Will Contact Your Program's Office of General Counsel
We take steps that less experienced law firms might not. One option we explore in every case is negotiating directly with a residency program's Office of General Counsel (OGC). An OGC serves as the counsel for the program and may be able to settle your case on its own.
We will contact your program's OGC as necessary. Our team is always prepared for the next legal step. When we communicate the possibility of legal action against the residency program, the OGC may be open to an alternative resolution.
Why Choose the Lento Law Firm for Your Medical Resident Issue?
You already know what we can do for you. But aside from what we do, why should you choose the Lento Law Firm to handle your case?
Our experience with medical residency cases:
- Allows us to truly understand what is at stake in your case
- Gives you the confidence that we understand residency-specific disciplinary proceedings
- Helps us anticipate the challenges that may arise during your case
Whenever you hire a law firm, you should seek a firm that has been there before. In addition to the benefits of our experience, our firm is dedicated to serving our clients. As your attorneys, we will:
- Always seek the best possible outcome to your case
- Respond promptly to your phone calls and emails
- Cater to any special requests that you have
- Make your case our priority
The sooner you retain us, the longer we will have to work on your case. Call the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 to discuss your case. You can also submit your case details online.