The Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) is a public medical school originally established in 1973 to fill a need for more physicians to serve the growing Hampton Roads area of Virginia. Today, the school serves an enrollment of more than 1200 students and is consistently ranked among the nation's top medical schools. EVMS is quite selective in its admissions, as well, accepting only 6.4 percent of its applicants.
The field of medicine is a public trust, and as such, medical schools hold their students to exceptionally high standards both academically and professionally. A pristine academic record can open many career doors for medical school graduates; likewise, adverse notations due to academic failures or disciplinary actions can limit a student's career prospects. If you are a medical student dealing with misconduct allegations or other medical school concerns, you can improve your chances of a favorable outcome by hiring an attorney advisor with specific experience in student rights and student discipline issues.
Code of Conduct and Student Honor Code
Medical students at EVMS are required to abide by the highest standards of academic and behavioral integrity as spelled out in the Student Code of Conduct. In addition, students agree to abide by the Student Honor Code, which says, simply, “I pledge not to lie, cheat, or steal and to commit to living a life of honor.”
Students' academic progress is monitored by the Student Progress Committee (SPC), the Honor Council reviews allegations of Honor Code violations, and general Student Conduct Code issues are administered by Student Affairs. Allegations of academic and professional misconduct are taken seriously and subject to investigation. Students who are found to have committed violations may face a variety of sanctions, which can be as mild as loss of privileges or community service, or as severe as suspension, dismissal, or revocation of degree.
Medical school can be grueling, to say the least. Between keeping up with intense course schedules and maintaining minimum grades, even the best students sometimes struggle to keep pace. When students fail to perform to minimal academic standards, the SPC may recommend a remediation plan to get the student back on track. At EVMS, remediation may also be prescribed for professionalism infractions.
Remediation can be either a career-saver or a slippery slope. If a student would otherwise face dismissal over academic shortfalls, a remediation plan can rescue the student's academic standing as well as future career prospects. That being said, remediation is both costly and time-consuming, and if remediation actions appear on the medical student's academic record, it can have a negative effect on job opportunities. Remediation can sometimes be averted through a successful grade appeal. Before agreeing to a remediation plan, it is wise to consult with an attorney advisor to explore whether other options might be more feasible.
Students who continue to underperform academically, or who are found to have committed egregious violations of the Honor Code or Code of Conduct, may be dismissed from EVMS. A dismissal from medical school may not only completely derail a student's career prospects, but may also cause a cascade of difficulties for the student moving forward. Dismissed students may face any or all of the following:
- Difficulties resuming their medical education. If a medical student wishes to try again, convincing another medical school to accept them may be challenging because a previously dismissed student isn't considered a high priority candidate.
- Loss of academic progress. A dismissal may erase all prior academic progress so if a student does manage to re-enroll, he/she will have to start over from the beginning.
- A permanent notation on their academic record. Even if a medical student re-enrolls and graduates with honors, the dismissal will likely remain on their permanent record, possibly limiting their career opportunities as a result.
- Large student debt. It's not uncommon for medical students to borrow up to (and over) $100,000 in student loans to attend medical school. If the student is dismissed, he/she must still repay the loan—possibly without the benefit of a physician's salary.
Before any disciplinary sanction becomes final, the student has the right to submit an appeal. At EVMS, students may appeal an adverse decision on the following grounds:
- Procedural errors that negatively affected the outcome;
- Introduction of new information not previously known during the investigation; or
- Claiming a conflict of interest or bias on the part of the Hearing Officer, resulting in a negative outcome.
Once the school renders a decision after the disciplinary hearing, the student has only five days to file a formal appeal. If the sanction is dismissal, this may represent the final opportunity for the student to rescue their career.
Hiring an Attorney-Advisor
Most medical schools have the best intentions regarding their students. However, they also face intense pressure and public scrutiny to maintain a flawless reputation, and sometimes the pressure to administer swift justice results in unfair disciplinary actions for the student or a denial of proper due process. When this happens, the student's career prospects may be severely damaged. For this reason, no medical student facing misconduct allegations, disciplinary proceedings, or other concerns should face these matters without the help of an experienced attorney advisor. The attorney advisor will be able to help the student navigate the nuances of school disciplinary policies while helping ensure due process is protected.
Joseph D. Lento has many years of experience in student rights and student discipline matters, and he has helped many medical students across the country to achieve positive outcomes with school-related issues and concerns and student discipline hearings, appeals, and other conflicts. Don't risk your future career by failing to get the support you need. Call the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 to see how we can help.