The simple fact that you've graduated medical school and begun a residency in Arkansas is an accomplishment in itself. It's a challenging and exciting time—you're taking the first steps in your career toward being a full-fledged physician, and you're gaining valuable real-world experience along the way. At the same time, your medical residency can be a precarious time because, as a "newbie" in the medical field, you're more prone to making mistakes--but here in the real world where physicians are held to fairly unforgiving standards, those mistakes can still have serious consequences for your future.
Perhaps it was a mistake triggered by sleep deprivation due to the 80-hour work weeks. Perhaps you were simply out of your element. Or perhaps someone simply accused you of wrongdoing out of spite. Regardless of the cause, you suddenly find that your medical residency hangs in the balance—and by extension, your career. If you're facing allegations of misconduct as a medical resident in Arkansas, it's crucial that you take immediate action to protect your future. Nationwide attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento has helped many medical residents navigate the complex issues of the disciplinary process to save their residencies and their careers.
Dismissal From Arkansas Residency Programs
Those working in the healthcare sector know that Arkansas is a competitive area when it comes to physicians. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) is one of the most reputable medical schools in the nation, and Arkansas is consistently ranked as one of the top states in which to practice. Suffice to say, it's an achievement to land a residency here, and any personal or professional mistake made as a resident could endanger your reputation and your career.
The further you advance in your studies and practice, the higher the pressures are to measure up to high standards in your residency program in the categories of professional behavior, competency, and compliance. This is true whether you're in your first year or your third. A breach in protocol, a violation of the rules, or a misstep in any of these categories, and you could find yourself being overlooked for advancement at best and facing dismissal from the residency program at worst.
Violating Ethics in Personal or Professional Behavior
Being a doctor entails a level of public trust that other jobs do not. Doctors are required to follow strict rules and follow high standards of behavior both on and off duty. The promise of personal privacy for a physician is often an illusion at best. In other words, your career could be just as easily jeopardized over a misstep in your personal life as one that occurs while you're on the job.
Most residency programs expect their residents to abide by the AMA's national code of medical ethics. Common ethical and professional violations that could jeopardize your residency include:
- Allegations of sexual misconduct
- Accepting bribes or kickbacks
- Public intoxication or substance abuse while on the job
- Being arrested and charged for a crime (e.g., DUI, assault)
- Discriminating against anyone based on race, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, or nationality
- Mishandling and/or stealing medications from the hospital
- Failure to manage stress sufficiency, which can lead to interpersonal issues, medical mistakes, and more
- Posting on social media in an irresponsible manner
- Ignoring conflicts of interest when deciding to treat patients or making decisions about their treatment
Sanctions or dismissal may occur as a result of these types of ethics breaches, which can have a damaging effect on a resident's professional prospects.
Dismissal Over Core Competencies
Ethics are only part of the equation; during your residency, you must also prove your skills and competence as a physician. The Accreditation Council for Medical Education (ACGME) identifies six core competencies every aspiring physician must master:
- Patient Care: Medical residents must provide excellent and compassionate care in implementing relevant, appropriate, and effective treatments for patients.
- Medical Knowledge: Medical residents must master the art of applying their biomedical and clinical knowledge to the treatment of patients in the real world.
- Practice-based Learning and Improvement: Your residency is designed to enhance your abilities and prepare you for the demands of your job. Because of this pressure, you're expected to consistently self-evaluate so your performance and skills can improve.
- Interpersonal and Communication Skills: The successful practice of medicine relies on effective communication. You'll communicate with many individuals, including patients, other doctors, supervisors, medical personnel, and staff. Knowing how to communicate effectively reduces the possibility of fatal mistakes and allows you to work together and share information successfully with others.
- Professionalism: As a medical resident, you're responsible for conducting yourself professionally at all times while being sensitive to the needs of your patients and colleagues.
- Systems-based Practice: You must be aware of and capable of working with healthcare systems in the state of Arkansas and throughout the country.
The disciplinary board is a group of doctors who enforce policy compliance at teaching hospitals. If students engage in behavior that violates these rules, the board can impose penalties on them. These sanctions can range from a verbal reprimand to probation to a complete dismissal from the residency program.
You should note that even minor disciplinary actions enacted during your residency can cause problems in your future medical career because you must disclose these sanctions when you apply for licensure or employment at medical facilities in Arkansas or other states. Serious violations may impact your ability to obtain or keep your license, and even minor offenses could hurt your professional reputation. Suffice to say that if you come up before the disciplinary board over misconduct or incompetency allegations, facing the board on your own could lead to a disappointing outcome.
Attorney-Advisor for Arkansas Medical Residents
When you're a resident, mistakes happen. Unfortunately, sometimes those mistakes have major repercussions both on your patients and your future career. If you come under scrutiny by a disciplinary board, having expert guidance may make all the difference in whether your career can move forward successfully. Joseph D. Lento is a nationally recognized attorney-advisor with years of experience helping medical residents in Arkansas and other states as they navigate complex disciplinary issues. Most unfair dismissals don't require litigation to resolve them; in most cases, they can be averted during the disciplinary hearing process or settled amicably after the fact through skilled negotiation. Mr. Lento understands how to interact with the disciplinary boards and general counsel of teaching hospitals to help you reach a more favorable outcome.
Don't allow a blunder or misunderstanding during your residency to jeopardize your future as a physician. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 or send a message through the online portal for more information.