Medical College of Georgia (MCG) at Augusta University is the third oldest medical school in the Southeast and one of the ten largest medical schools in the U.S. Tracing its roots back to 1828, MCG has a long legacy of research and practical training of future physicians. Medical students at MCG are to abide by the medical school's Honor Code as well as the Student Conduct policy of Augusta University. Allegations of unprofessionalism and misconduct are reviewed and investigated by a University Student Conduct Board.
Given the high academic and ethical demands of the medical profession, medical students depend on having a nearly flawless school record to open up opportunities for career advancement. Disciplinary actions taken by the Board for academic or professional misconduct can have a lasting impact on a medical student's future. Having a skilled attorney-advisor available to represent the student's interests can go a long way toward ensuring fairness in disciplinary proceedings while protecting the student's rights and reputation.
Code of Conduct and Honor Code
Since 1953, the Medical College of Georgia has operated by a student-sponsored, faculty-approved Honor Code to hold its students to the highest standards of ethical and academic responsibility. It states:
“The Honor Code requires honorable and ethical behavior in all educational
situations and medical responsibilities irrespective of the degree of supervision, guidance, or monitoring provided by the faculty or staff, of all students in the College of Medicine.”
Reports of misconduct against the Honor Code are investigated by an Honor Court consisting of students and faculty. In addition, students are subject to a broader Code of Conduct that is administered by the Student Conduct Board. The Code of Conduct prescribes a detailed system of investigation and discipline for reported complaints and alleged violations.
Sanctions and Discipline
Honor Code violations remain on a student's permanent record but may be removed after one year upon appeal by the sole discretion of the Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education. For confirmed Code of Conduct Violations, the University may recommend any of a number of sanctions, including oral/written warnings for mild violations, disciplinary probation, social probation, loss of privileges, restitution and/or fines, additional educational requirements, suspension and worse. Some of these sanctions may appear on a student's permanent record, causing lingering damage to their personal and professional reputation.
The medical profession relies heavily on public trust. Physicians are expected to maintain high levels of knowledge and skill, as well as to abide by a strong professional ethos. For this reason, medical schools hold their students to very rigorous academic standards, and even the best students may struggle to keep up from time to time. MCG provides remediation opportunities along the educational pathway to ensure medical students can stay on track and meet the qualifications for a career in medicine.
Remediation is a key to resolving academic deficiencies, improving student performance, and making up for shortfalls. Remedial courses may take extra time and money to complete, but when the alternative is possible dismissal, remediation serves as a restorative option that can protect the student's reputation as well as their financial investment.
Repeated failures to meet academic or professional standards, as well as serious acts of misconduct (including Honor Code violations), may result in expulsion from the school. Expulsion means “permanent separation” of the student from the University. According to the Student Code of Conduct, "The student expelled is not allowed to enroll or participate in University programs or enter University facilities without the permission of the Department of Public Safety, and the Office of the Dean of Students."
Being dismissed from medical school can have a devastating effect on a student's career trajectory, possibly creating a permanent barrier to entry. The effects of dismissal can be far-reaching and have unexpected long-term consequences, such as:
- Challenges in re-enrolling in medical school. Medical schools have exceptionally high admissions standards, and a medical student dismissed from another school may not be considered a good candidate.
- Academic loss. Even if a dismissed student finds another opportunity to go to medical school, the student's entire academic progress is effectively erased, meaning they will have to repeat months or years of coursework at additional expense.
- The burden of debt. Medical students essentially take a gamble when taking out student loans, expecting to pay them back once they are established in their careers. When the career itself is jeopardized by dismissal, the debt does not go away—the student must still find a way to pay it back.
Considering what is at stake, medical students should seek every possible alternative to dismissal when faced with academic or professional disciplinary action. Fortunately, students have the right to appeal decisions deemed to be unfair or based on incorrect evidence. MCG provides a process that allows students to appeal decisions such as dismissal, probation, and even remediation when deemed unnecessary.
Attorney-Advisor for Medical Students
Just as medical students are under pressure to maintain a pristine record, medical schools are also under pressure to keep their collective reputations intact by responding to misconduct quickly and appropriately. On occasion, student sanctions may be unfairly harsh and without due process, despite the best of intentions, and the student is left to deal with the damage to their record and reputation. To provide a deterrent against unfair rulings and proceedings, hiring an attorney advisor to protect the student's interests can make a significant difference in their career opportunities down the road.
Joseph Lento has extensive experience defending students nationwide. We can help ensure your rights are protected in student disciplinary proceedings. Contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 today for more information.