As one of six schools within the LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, the Louisiana State University School of Medicine has been in operation since its charter in 1931. Medical students at LSU are held to high standards of professionalism and ethics as detailed in the Professional Conduct Policy Statement and Honor Code. Allegations of academic and behavioral misconduct are addressed by the Student Advocacy and Accountability (SAA) Office.
Medical students must be willing to commit wholly to solid academic performance and high standards of personal/professional conduct. A stellar academic record plays a major role in the student's future trajectory. Disciplinary actions can reflect badly upon the student and have an impact on career opportunities down the road. Having an attorney-advisor available during disciplinary hearings and proceedings can go a long way to ensuring the student is treated fairly and avoids unnecessary reputational damage.
Honor Code, Professional Conduct and Code of Student Conduct
LSU medical students agree to abide by an Honor Code as prescribed by the Council on Professional Conduct (CSPC):
“On my honor, I will uphold the ideals of the medical profession and protect the name of the LSU School of Medicine for the duration of my career. Continuing its tradition of excellence, I vow to leave the school better than it was left to me and expect others to do the same.”
Complaints against students for violating professionalism policies are generally processed internally by the CPSC but can result in formal penalties to the student if misconduct is discovered. In addition, allegations of academic or behavioral misconduct by a student will be investigated and reviewed by an SAA Officer and may involve a formal hearing. The school also outlines an appeals process by which a student may contest a negative outcome before it becomes a permanent part of the student's record.
Outcomes for Misconduct
Students found in violation of the school's Code of Conduct may be subject to a number of different Outcomes, depending on the severity and circumstances surrounding the alleged offense. Outcomes may include a formal warning, disciplinary probation, reduced grades, restitution, restrictions on privileges, required educational activities, etc. For serious acts of misconduct, the school may invoke suspension or expulsion from the school.
Impact on Student Record
Certain acts of misconduct and their penalties may appear on a student's permanent academic record or transcript. Lesser outcomes may be removed from the transcript on request once the student completes the requirements. However, suspensions, expulsions, and incidents of academic misconduct may remain permanently on the student's record, with potentially significant effects on future career opportunities.
Medical schools effectively have a charge to keep the public trust, so they maintain exceptionally rigorous academic schedules to ensure their graduates meet the highest possible standards of excellence and professionalism. The academic requirements can be so demanding that even the most committed students sometimes fall short. For this reason, most medical schools integrate some sort of remediation into their curriculum to help students get back on track for meeting the requirements of their profession.
Remediation can be time-consuming and costly, and sometimes it is prescribed unnecessarily due to erroneous grading practices. Students may dispute or challenge grades to avoid remediation when appropriate. However, in situations where severe academic shortfalls threaten a student's future, remediation may be an acceptable alternative to dismissal and can save the student's financial investment and career prospects.
Frequent or consistent academic shortfalls may result in dismissal from the school, along with allegations of academic or professional misconduct. LSU defines expulsion as "permanent separation of a Student from the University without the possibility of readmission," and specifically indicates expulsion will be recorded on the student's permanent transcript.
An outcome of dismissal or expulsion can be highly devastating to the student—not just on a personal level, but also on a financial and professional level. Dismissal can cause the following additional complications:
- Re-enrollment challenges. Students who have been expelled from medical school often have a difficult time finding re-admission elsewhere, effectively putting their entire career prospects in jeopardy.
- Academic losses. If a student manages to restart medical school, they will have to resume courses from the beginning. Any academic credit is usually erased when the student is dismissed.
- Financial losses. The student and/or parents will assume financial loss for all tuition and supplies paid to the school, with no degree to show for it.
- Excessive debt. If the student took out student loans to pay for medical school, those loans will still be due—without the added benefit of a medical career to pay for them. This debt can conceivably range over $100,000, depending on how much the student borrowed.
These consequences add up to a devastating outcome for any student dismissed from medical school. For these reasons, you should attempt to resolve any disputes or misconduct allegations to avoid dismissal at all costs.
For students facing dismissal, the appeals process may be their last best hope of saving their future careers. Students have a right to appeal any disciplinary decision rendered by the school, and the school must provide a reasonable process and time window for doing so. At LSU, appeals may be made on the grounds of evidence of bias, introduction of new information, or significant departure from accepted procedure. Appeals must be made in writing within 5 days of the decision.
Attorney-Advisor for Disciplinary Action
The stakes can be quite high for medical students facing allegations of academic or professional misconduct. The stakes are equally high for medical schools because they are under constant scrutiny to maintain the highest standards of excellence and transparency. This pressure can sometimes work against the student in the form of unfair outcomes or disproportionately harsh penalties, both of which may negatively impact their career. Hiring an attorney to advise in such situations can help protect the student's rights, and possibly even save their professional reputation.
Joseph Lento can provide key guidance in situations where medical students face disciplinary action or expulsion. Contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 today for more information on how we can help.