If being a doctor were easy, everyone would do it. You have to make a commitment to lifelong learning; you have to accept that you'll essentially be on call 24/7; you have to be willing to work with patients who might make you uncomfortable. Recognizing just how much the profession demands of you, medical schools hold their students to the very highest academic and professional standards. They want you to know now just what your future will be like.
As a “distinctively Christian” school, Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine takes its responsibility for training physicians especially seriously. LUCOM's goal is to prepare you for a lifetime of service, not just to your patients but to your community. That means making sure you know all there is to know about the human body and how to treat it. It also means demanding you be absolutely above reproach both ethically and morally.
Standards are important. We all want to know that the doctor who is treating us is committed in every possible way to our well-being. Even doctors make mistakes, though, and as a medical student, you're almost guaranteed to make some. After all, you're still learning. A mistake shouldn't cost you your future. If you feel your medical school is holding you to a standard that's too high or punishing you for something you simply didn't do, you have the right to raise questions and challenge their accusations. Find out what you can do to keep your future bright and what resources are out there to help you do it.
Academic Standards at LUCOM
Academics are central to any medical school's mission, and most schools set high expectations for their students. LUCOM's policy is particularly strict in this regard. You are expected to achieve at minimum a grade of C (70%) in all of your coursework. If you should fail a course, the school requires you to complete a remediation program. If you should fail two courses in a semester, you'll likely be dismissed from the program.
At LUCOM, The Student Progress Committee (SPC) has primary authority for monitoring student progress and recommending any sanctions, subject to the Dean's approval. The committee meets at the conclusion of each semester to review every student's record. If you're falling behind, you can expect the SPC will intervene, and the committee's decisions are usually final.
However, you do have the right to appeal a specific course grade in order to avoid a sanction from the SPC. This process begins with a meeting with your instructor. If this doesn't resolve the issue, you can appeal further to the Administrative Director of Medical Education, the Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, and ultimately to the Dean.
In addition, you can appeal a dismissal from the SPC to an ad hoc Appeals Committee appointed by the Dean. However, the grounds for appeal in such cases are limited to
- The discovery of new evidence
- An allegation of procedural mistake
- A claim that the penalty is disproportionate to the offense
Maintaining Professional Standards
LUCOM's professional standards are as rigorous as its academic standards, if not more so. A verbal altercation, a violation of Liberty University policy, or even dressing inappropriately can get you into trouble. A more serious lapse in judgment, such as a criminal conviction, will almost certainly lead to dismissal.
Primary responsibility for reviewing professional or ethical violations rests with the Professional Advisory Group (PAG). However, if this group feels a violation demands sanctions, it refers the matter to the SPC for a full hearing. Sanctions can include counseling, auditing courses, or turning in regular self-evaluation reports, in addition to suspension, probation, and dismissal.
Here again, should the SPC decide to sanction you with dismissal, you have a limited right to appeal that judgment up to the Dean.
How Can an Attorney Help You?
At this point, you may already have a sense of why, as a medical student, you might need an attorney. As bright and conscientious as you might be, you're not perfect. If you're facing a sanction, either academic or disciplinary, an attorney can sometimes be your best option for salvaging your career.
Here's just a brief list of what attorneys can do.
- Remediation plans: It's always a good idea to ask an attorney-advisor to look over any remediation plans you're being asked to sign. Remediation plans serve as an important safety net for med students. They provide you with an opportunity to catch up when you fall behind. However, they cost both time and money to complete. An attorney may be able to suggest an alternative, such as appealing your original grade. They'll also be able to guide you through the process of making that appeal.
- Cleaning up your transcript: At LUCOM, many sanctions—even relatively minor ones—are noted on your transcript as a matter of course. This can have long-term implications like the loss of financial assistance or problems matching with a residency program. An attorney can help you negotiate any sanction. They may also be able to get past sanctions removed from your record.
- Fighting dismissal: Dismissal is, of course, the most serious sanction any medical student can face. It doesn't just mean separation from your school. It often means the end of your medical career. Few schools are willing to admit students who have been dismissed from other programs, and even if you should find one willing to take you your original dismissal will likely show up on your permanent record. It's always to your advantage, then, to fight any dismissal. LUCOM doesn't allow you to bring an attorney to hearings or other official meetings, but an attorney can be an invaluable resource to help you develop a defense strategy and prepare your case.
Joseph D. Lento, Student Advisor-Attorney
Joseph D. Lento is a fully-licensed, fully-qualified defense attorney who specializes in student rights. He built his career helping medical students like you appeal grades and overturn sanctions. Joseph D. Lento knows the law as it applies to medical school. More importantly, though, he knows how schools operate. Joseph D. Lento is comfortable talking to faculty and administrators. He knows the system, so he can offer useful advice on how to challenge it. Whether your problem is big or small, Joseph D. Lento can help you get the justice you deserve.
If you're facing a sanction from your medical school, don't wait until after you've been given a costly sanction. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.