First established in 1909, the Stritch School of Medicine is a private medical school affiliated with the Jesuit-founded Loyola University Chicago. The school maintains high academic and professional excellence standards, accepting less than 4 percent of its total applicants.
A medical student's future career hinges largely on their academic record. Students who perform well and graduate with honors are likely to have more career opportunities, while having a disciplinary mark on one's academic record may negatively impact a career outlook. For this reason, any allegation of academic or professional conduct has the potential to derail a medical student's career. Hiring an attorney-advisor for disciplinary proceedings can greatly improve the student's chances for a fair and positive outcome.
Community Standards and Professional Behavior Expectations
In keeping with its Jesuit heritage, the Stritch School of Medicine holds its students to high moral, ethical, and professional standards in addition to the policies stated in the University's Community Standards. As stated in the medical school's Academic Policy Manual, “Our students are assumed to be of high moral character, expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner, and behave as socially responsible citizens in keeping with the professional norms of medicine. Students also are expected to maintain high ethical standards and practice academic honesty in all of their educational endeavors.”
Academic matters are handled by the Academic Review and Intervention Committee (ARIC) and the Student Promotion Committee; other student conduct violations are addressed by the Office of Student Conduct and Conduct Resolution (OSCCR). Allegations of academic or professional misconduct are investigated thoroughly through a clearly defined process that may include a hearing. Students found to have committed violations may be subject to various “outcomes” that range from warnings, probation, or fines to suspension or dismissal from the school. Disciplinary notes stay on a student's record for seven years, potentially impacting their career alternatives in the process.
Most medical schools maintain a demanding course schedule while expecting students to maintain minimum grades. The work loads can be so intense that sometimes even high-performing students struggle to keep pace. In the interest of helping students succeed against these challenges, Stritch School of Medicine has implemented a detailed plan for remediation based on the student's struggles. Remediation is inconvenient, time-consuming and costly, but while it may sometimes be averted through a successful grade appeal, it can also save a student's career if the only alternative to remediation is dismissal.
For instances of severe or repeated academic shortfalls, or in cases of significant academic or professional misconduct, the school may call for dismissal of the student. At Stritch School of Medicine, dismissal and expulsion are synonymous and refer to “permanent exclusion of the student from the University.”
The consequences of dismissal for a medical student may extend far beyond the humiliation of dismissal itself. It can create a series of problems that can cause the student additional complications and grief. These may include:
- Challenges re-enrolling in medical school. Medical schools generally have stringent admissions standards, and a student who has previously been dismissed won't usually be looked at as a high-priority candidate.
- Loss of academic progress. Dismissal effectively erases any academic progress the student made toward a medical degree, so if he/she does manage to get re-enrolled, the student will basically have to repeat all work completed to date.
- Forfeiture of tuition. Students dismissed from medical school can lay no claim to a refund of tuition.
- Possibly crushing student debt. Any student loans the medical student took to pay for school will still have to be repaid, even without the benefit of a physician's salary.
Students facing disciplinary action (especially dismissal) have the right to lodge an appeal before the action(s) become final. While some medical schools only afford a short window for appeals to be filed, Stritch School of Medicine provides a fairly generous two-layer appeal process for students facing dismissal. The student will first submit a written appeal to the Vice Dean for Medical Education within 30 days of the determination. This appeal is referred to the Student Appeal Board for review. If the student is dissatisfied with the outcome, he/she has another 30 days to submit a final appeal to the Provost of the University, whose decision will be final.
A medical student who faces dismissal should make full use of the appeals process. Filling a persuasive appeal may be the last opportunity the student has to save their good name and career.
Hiring an Attorney-Advisor
While a medical school's student conduct policy is intended to protect both the school and the student, things don't always work out the way they are supposed to on paper. Medical schools are under constant pressure to maintain an irreproachable reputation. Because of that pressure, they sometimes pursue misconduct allegations aggressively and without due process, often resulting in disproportionate penalties and a derailed career for the student. As someone accused of academic or professional misconduct, you have the right to have an attorney-advisor involved, someone who understands how to navigate the school's disciplinary process and ensure your rights are protected. This added support is often enough to save an accused student's reputation as well as their career.
Joseph D. Lento is a pre-eminent authority in resolving academic issues and also student misconduct investigations, having successfully defended medical students in schools nationwide. Don't put your career at greater risk by facing school-related concerns, misconduct allegations, or unfair dismissal alone. Call the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 to see how we can help.