Finding Justice at the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine

If being a doctor were easy, everyone would do it. You've got to be disciplined. You've got to have the highest ethical standards. That's one reason medical schools demand so much of their students. They want to ensure that everyone who graduates with a degree isn't just educated in medicine but knows what to expect as a professional.

The Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine demands more than most. The school's statistics are impressive. ACOM has graduated over 700 physicians in the last five years. Students have a 97.47 percent pass rate on the COMLEX 2CE. And the school's residency placement rate is even better, at 100 percent. What does all that mean? It means ACOM is a great place to get an education. It also means the school doesn't give any of its students a free pass. You can expect rigorous coursework as well as a thorough introduction to the rigors of the medical profession.

You need to know it now, though: you're going to make mistakes. We all do, even doctors. The trick is to make sure your mistakes don't define who you are. If you ever feel your school is holding you to an unfair standard, you have the right to stand up for yourself. Don't take on this challenge alone, though. Make sure you have an attorney-advisor at your side, someone who understands what you're going through and knows how to work within your school's judicial system.

Academic and Professional Standards

As an ACOM student, you're probably already familiar with the school's honor code, located under the Code of Conduct in your Student Handbook. When you sign that code, you agree, among other things, to:

“accept the responsibility for my conduct and expect the highest standards of myself.”

The code further includes a commitment to:

  • Honesty and integrity
  • Respect for others
  • Reliability and responsibility
  • Self-improvement
  • Representation of the ACOM

In simplest terms, you're expected to achieve the “highest standards,” both academically and professionally, and this can extend into your personal life. For example, you are required to submit to periodic background checks and drug tests and to report any arrests.

The Associate Dean for Student Services has primary responsibility for monitoring and addressing your “academic progress and standing” at ACOM. Not only does this individual investigate all violations of the school's expectations, but they also decide whether or not to assign you a sanction for a violation. Sanctions can include:

  • Remediation
  • Warnings
  • Probation
  • Suspension
  • Dismissal

You do have the right to appeal the Associate Dean's decisions. Appeals of academic sanctions should be made to the Student Progress Committee (SPC). Appeals of disciplinary sanctions should be made to the Dean's Cabinet.

Remediation

Your school doesn't want you to fail. Keep in mind, your failure reflects poorly on the school itself. Medical schools pride themselves on their admissions standards and making sure you don't get to enroll if you aren't fully qualified. Under most circumstances, then, the Associate Dean will work with you to create a remediation plan if you're struggling academically.

It's important you recognize, though, that remediation can be both costly and time-consuming. More importantly, if a remediation should show up on your academic record, it could harm your job prospects.

Often, there are better choices than remediation. For instance, you may be able to appeal your original grade. It's important, then, that you don't merely sign a remediation plan. Instead, consult a qualified attorney-advisor, someone who knows your school and can review all your options with you.

Dismissal

Of course, remediation is not a get-out-of-jail free card. ACOM will suspend or dismiss you if you fall too far behind in your studies or if you commit an egregious violation of ethical or disciplinary standards. Dismissals can have long-lasting effects on your life and career:

  • Trouble resuming your medical education: Once you've been dismissed from one program, you may find it difficult to enroll in another. Most schools are unwilling to take a chance on a student who's failed once.
  • Loss of academic progress: Even if you are able to secure a place at another institution, you will likely have to begin your degree all over again. You'll lose time, and you'll be forced to pay for courses you've already taken.
  • Permanent transcript notations: Your original dismissal can remain on your academic record even if you complete your degree at another school. You could even graduate with honors and still have trouble finding your first job.
  • Student debt: Paying back student loans is hard enough as it is. Paying back loans for a degree you never received adds salt to the wound.

The bottom line is, you should never simply accept a sanction. Even a warning can cause problems for you later in your career. If you've been suspended or dismissed, though, fighting is almost always the best option. You'll need help, though. It's never easy to take on a medical school. If you should find yourself in this situation, consider hiring an attorney to serve as your advisor. They can offer crucial advice about constructing your defense, gathering evidence, and filling out documents.

Hiring an Attorney-Advisor

We all have to take responsibility when we make a mistake. One mistake, though, shouldn't dictate our entire future. If your medical school is holding you to too high a standard or imposing sanctions that are disproportionate to your mistake, don't just accept it. Your career is at stake. Fight for it.

Joseph D. Lento is a defense attorney who specializes in student rights and defending students in school disciplinary matters. He's helped hundreds of medical students across the country appeal grades, remove negative evaluations from their records, and overturn dismissals. Joseph D. Lento understands how campus judicial systems operate. He can protect your rights and make sure you get the very best possible resolution to your case.

If you're facing a sanction from your medical school, don't wait. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.

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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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