Despite its relatively recent establishment just over two decades ago, Florida State University College of Medicine (FSU COM) is one of the nation's most high-caliber medical schools. FSU COM also has some of the lowest acceptance rates in the country. Being part of the FSU COM community is an opportunity that opens many doors to medical students upon graduation. However, obtaining a medical degree becomes an issue if students receive notice of a professional or academic violation. Besides misconduct issues, students who cannot maintain acceptable grades and academic performance risk dismissal from campus.
With multiple stressors that students habitually encounter, some make mistakes or fall behind due to their personal circumstances. Since being a future physician entails a higher degree of responsibility and the consistent reinforcement of ethical principles, even minor violations at FSU COM may incur severe consequences. Whether it's remediation or sanctions, any penalty imposed on a medical student has far-reaching implications. With the help of an attorney-advisor, students facing professional concerns or ethical violations in medical school can reduce the impact of sanctions and lead to a favorable outcome.
Academic Honor Policy
The FSUCM student handbook contains the academic honor code for medical students. The text expands on the university's expectations of academic integrity, conduct, and ethical behavior. The Chair of the Student Evaluation and Promotion Committee reviews any infarctions of this code. Upon discovery of an incident, the chair refers the matter to the Evaluation and Promotion Committee for a recommendation. According to the code:
“The Florida State University College of Medicine expects students to be honest in all of their classwork. In addition to academic honesty, we expect a high standard of personal and professional conduct in the physicians we aspire to train. There is an Academic Honor Code that all College of Medicine students are expected to follow with respect to their moral and ethical behavior”.
Students that violate the code must attend a hearing if they commit violations. If there are no prior incidents but the incident is egregious, a committee may impose sanctions regardless of the student's history. The sanctions are numerous and include adding more academic work or reduced grades to the suspension or revocation of a degree. Such a severe outcome may end a medical student's chances of becoming a physician or delay their graduation for years. Without the assistance of an attorney-advisor, students are under the mercy of panels that may not conduct a fair hearing.
Even if a medical student demonstrates exemplary behavior, they may lag in their coursework or fail critical exams. In some cases, FSU COM allows students to retake an exam to improve their grades. Chronically poor performance, however, incurs remediation activities that also have additional financial costs. As per the policy, remediation activities include courses, an academic plan, workshops, and one-on-one staff meetings.
Despite their downside and the additional responsibilities that students have to juggle, remediation is a blessing in disguise. Not only do medical students regain their academic footing and improve their performance – it may be the only option they have besides expulsion.
In worst-case scenarios, medical students could face permanent dismissal from FSU COM. Reserved for severe violations, multiple offenses, and chronic poor performance, expulsion significantly undermines a student's goals of becoming a doctor. Society – and universities – hold physicians to a higher standard because of the medical field's sensitive nature. Establishing solid relationships and maintaining a positive reputation is necessary for doctors to create a fruitful career. Some implications of an expulsion include:
- Difficulty re-enrolling in other programs. Getting into another medical program may seem like the obvious route to take if facing expulsion. However, many medical schools have low acceptance rates and opt for only the most promising students. Having an expulsion notice on one's transcript is a red flag for admissions officers who prefer students in good academic standing to join their programs.
- Loss of progress. Between the hearings process, the delay in studies, and expulsion, medical students lose precious time from their educational progress. By the time they enroll in a new medical program and secure additional loans, they lose years of hard work and have to start over. Although it is possible to start over, students who had a few years left may opt to forgo medical school and pursue a different career.
- Financial risk. It is no secret that medical school is expensive – especially when students seek admission to prestigious programs that promise successful careers later. Tuition that went into their studies is non-refundable, and some students must apply for additional funds. The increased debt takes a toll on student's lives and psychological well-being and may take years to pay off.
Although FSU COM allows students to appeal the Student Evaluations and Promotions Committee, only severe sanctions receive consideration. Students who are on probation, are to repeat an academic year, or are facing dismissal may request a review. Students must appeal to the Dean of the College of Medicine. If the Dean approves the appeal, they establish a Special Committee to review the case's details. The committee makes its recommendation to the Dean, who decides how to proceed with the matter. If the student believes that the issue deserves escalation to the President's Office, they may appeal the Dean's decision. The President makes the final decision regarding the student's case.
Hiring an Attorney-Advisor
Throughout the process of the committee hearing and appeals, students may continue their studies. Still, the ordeal may prevent them from attending some clinical courses. With the high course load and the progress that medical students must consistently make, facing sanctions is a significant obstacle in their path.
Attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento understands the challenges medical students go through, whether on an academic or behavioral charge. If you face sanctions due to academic misconduct, professional violations, or simply an honest mistake, advisor Lento walks you through the process. Don't let a university panel strip you of your right to a fair process or fair hearing. Your academic progress is on the line – and so is your future career.
Contact the Lento Law Firm today for a confidential and informative consultation for your case at (888) 535 – 3686.