First established in 1893, the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) is a private medical school headquartered in Milwaukee, with additional locations in Green Bay and Wausau. First established in 1893 as the Wisconsin College of Physicians and Surgeons, then as Milwaukee Medical College in 1894, the school eventually became part of the University of Marquette until 1967, at which point it separated and became an independent institution. Today, as the only private medical school in Wisconsin, MCW has more than 1200 students enrolled across its campuses.
For the medical student, a pristine school record is key to opening the door to advancement and opportunities in the medical field. The MCW has adopted an extensive Code of Conduct holding students to the highest academic, professional, and ethical standards. Disciplinary actions for poor academic performance or lack of professionalism can reflect badly on one's record, and occasionally unfair treatment during disciplinary hearings can hijack a career trajectory. Hiring a skilled attorney-advisor in school disciplinary procedures can be an effective buffer against rushes to judgment and can ultimately protect a student's reputation and career.
Code of Conduct and Professionalism
The Medical College of Wisconsin's Code of Conduct emphasizes the following pillars in the fulfillment of its Mission:
- Acting with Integrity and Respect
- Excelling in our Missions
- Safeguarding Our People, Resources, and Information
- Embracing Business Ethics
- Interacting Appropriately with Third Parties
In addition, MCW has established a Code of Professionalism in an attempt to instill a high ethical standard in its students. The code is based on three Core Commitments:
- Respect—nurturing empathy, respecting all cultures/beliefs, handling private information appropriately, etc.
- Excellence—embracing lifelong learning, holding high ethics in acquiring knowledge and dealing with others
- Magnanimity—embracing mentorship and collaboration
The school expects medical students to adhere to a strict honor code as follows: “As students of health care and research professions, each will demonstrate, both individually and collectively, honest, ethical and responsible behavior in all academic endeavors, clinical experiences, and other interactions with colleagues, patients, staff and collaborators along the path to becoming a professional.”
The Student Handbook lays out the school's policies regarding maltreatment and violation of the school's standards of behavior. Mild infractions may be resolved informally and internally, but more serious allegations of academic or professional misconduct may be subject to investigation and review.
The curriculum and schedules at most medical schools (including MCW) are exceptionally aggressive—and rightly so. The medical profession cannot function without a high level of public trust, so medical students must be held to high standards both academically and professionally. It is not uncommon even for the most dedicated students to fall short of expectations. In such cases, remediation can be a key to helping students get back on track while assuring the school that they can meet the qualifications needed for a career in medicine.
Remediation may involve repeating courses, which cost extra time and money to complete. But when faced with possible dismissal, remediation can effectively save a student's future career from derailing—especially if the argument can be made that the circumstances behind disciplinary action are questionable.
In cases of consistently poor academic performance or allegations of professional/ethical misconduct, a student may be brought before a school review board. If the allegations are found to have merit, the school may prescribe a range of disciplinary sanctions depending on the circumstances and severity, some of which may remain on the student's permanent record. These sanctions may include formal written reprimands, disciplinary probation, suspension, or permanent dismissal.
Being dismissed or expelled from medical school can completely upend a student's career path. Expulsion represents a permanent separation from the school, loss of tuition, and loss of progress. Not only can a dismissal be humiliating and disheartening, but it can also carry long-term ramifications that can deeply hurt the student's chances for a medical career in the future. Some of the more common results of dismissal include:
- Difficulty re-enrolling elsewhere. Given the extremely high admissions standards of most medical schools, a student who has been dismissed will not likely be given priority.
- Lost progress toward a medical degree. Even if a medical student can re-enroll in another school, they may still face years of repeated courses because expulsion effectively eliminates the progress made thus far.
- Mounting debt. Medical students often take on huge amounts of student debt, banking on the idea that they can afford to pay it back on a physician's salary. If a student is dismissed from medical school, that career is now in question—but the debt still must be paid.
Appealing Grades and Sanctions
Before disciplinary actions become final, medical students have a right to lodge an appeal or request a review, and medical schools provide mechanisms for them to do so. Appeals may involve challenging negative grades, introducing new evidence, questioning whether the student received due process, and other options.
Attorney-Advisor for Disciplinary Reviews of Medical Students
While medical schools generally make an effort to keep their disciplinary processes transparent and fair to all parties, the pressure to maintain high institutional standards and avoid bad publicity may sometimes skew due process for the student under scrutiny. An unfair decision or rush to judgment can have lasting impacts on the student's ability to advance in a medical career. For this reason, it's critical to take steps to ensure the school protects the rights of the accused in their review processes. Hiring an experienced attorney-advisor for guidance and representation can help keep the school accountable to its own policies while protecting the student's rights under the law. Contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 today for more information.