Hawaii Medical Resident Defense Advisor

Doctor is among the most distinguished professions in our society. If you're a medical resident, you already know that's a double-edged sword. It's nice to be appreciated and respected. There's a price to pay, though. Doctors are also held to the very highest standards. It's not just that you're expected to know everything there is to know about the human body and how to treat it. You're also expected to maintain the highest professional and ethical standards. That even extends to your personal life. In short, doctors are never supposed to make mistakes.

Of course, that's a ridiculous proposition. We all make mistakes, even doctors. Most residency programs understand this. They have high expectations, but they ease you into those expectations, and they use mistakes as teachable moments rather than excuses to drum you out of the program.

What do you do, though, if your program isn't quite so forgiving? The answer is, you don't let a mistake define you. You challenge your program's assessment and remind them of your qualifications. This isn't always easy to do. Disciplinary boards can be daunting. The right attorney-advisor, though, can help guide you through the process, make sure your rights are protected, and get your future back on track.

Competency Issues

Generally speaking, disciplinary boards evaluate residents on two significant criteria. The first of these is medical competency. As you might expect, your program wants you to be fully qualified by the time you leave your program. Thus, you're expected to meet all six of the competency requirements set by the Accreditation Council for Medical Education (ACGME).

  • Patient Care: First up, you must master the fundamentals of patient care. That means learning to listen to patients, but listening is only the beginning. You must understand how to work with patients to address their medical issues rather than simply telling them how to solve those issues.
  • Medical Knowledge: Of course, the heart of medicine is medical knowledge itself. You must have a theoretical grasp of how the human body works. Likewise, you must have practical expertise in how to treat the body.
  • Practice-based Learning and Improvement: The medical field is deep and wide, and our understanding of the human body is improving all the time. That means doctors can never stop learning. You won't always be working in a teaching hospital. You have to figure out how to learn things for yourself.
  • Interpersonal and Communication Skills: Strong interpersonal skills are vital for communicating effectively with patients. They're just as important, though, when it comes to working with other stakeholders in the project of medicine, from pharmaceutical reps to hospital administrators, legislators to nurses.
  • Professionalism: All of your actions and behaviors as a medical professional must be firmly grounded in a strong sense of ethics. As a physician, you're expected to value human life and to understand your role in serving your community.
  • Systems-based Practice: The practice of medicine involves learning to work in the many systems that define the field: federal, state, and local laws, hospital policies, and insurance regulations. You must understand how systems operate, and you must have a good working knowledge of the specific systems you'll have to deal with as a professional.

Ethical, Professional, and Personal Behavior

You might be surprised to discover that while your residency program holds you to high standards in terms of your medical knowledge, it holds you to even higher standards when it comes to your professional and personal behaviors. Again, your program wants to prepare you for the rigors of your career. Medicine relies on the public's willingness to trust its practitioners, and that means you have to be above reproach. The bottom line is, your program may forgive competency lapses, but if you should get a DUI or be charged with a crime like domestic violence, they may very well try to dismiss you altogether.

So, what are the “rules” when it comes to meeting professional expectations? The American Medical Association has established a national code of medical ethics to help doctors better understand their personal and professional obligations. This code isn't exhaustive, but it's a good place to start. The AMA mentions a number of serious types of professional misconduct.

  • Practicing medicine despite a conflict of interest
  • Sharing confidential patient information
  • Failing to manage stress leading to poor communication or medical mistakes
  • Accepting bribes
  • Discriminating against others
  • Misusing social media
  • Drinking on the job
  • Stealing medications
  • Receiving a DUI or being convicted of physical assault
  • Committing sexual misconduct

Facing the Disciplinary Board

If you're accused of making a mistake, you'll likely be called before your hospital's disciplinary board. This board not only sets hospital rules and policies but evaluates every resident's progress and handles all allegations of misconduct. As the name suggests, this body has the power to “discipline” you for both competency and professional failings. Punishments can include anything from warnings to reductions in pay to outright dismissal from the program.

Obviously, dismissal is the most serious of these sanctions since it almost certainly means the end of your career. That doesn't mean you can ignore minor sanctions, though. Any sanction, even a written warning, can have long-term repercussions on your medical career. You should know, for example, that when you go before the Hawaii medical board to apply for your license, you must disclose all disciplinary actions taken against you.

Often, residents think they have to face their hospital's disciplinary board on their own, or they simply believe they're smart enough to handle whatever issues that might come up. You are smart. You're a medical resident, after all. Medical knowledge, though, doesn't make you an expert in defending yourself.

Keep in mind that everything is on the line at this point. If you should be dismissed from your program, you'll have wasted all those years of hard work, all that money, all that time. Most hospitals allow you to retain a lawyer to help you protect yourself. It's always to your advantage to take advantage of this right.

How Can Joseph D. Lento Help?

Joseph D. Lento is a defense attorney who specializes in medical student and resident cases. Over the years, he's dealt with all types of charges, from accusations of negligence to allegations of sexual misconduct. Joseph D. Lento knows the law as it applies to medical residents. He also knows how hospitals function. He'll protect your rights and make sure you get the very best possible resolution to your case.

If you've been called before your disciplinary board, don't wait. The board is already preparing its case. You should be too. 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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