Graduating from medical school and starting a residency program in California is a significant milestone in your life. This part of your journey gives real-world experience and allows you to work with patients in real-time settings. Although you're still training during your residency, your supervisors and patients will hold you accountable for your actions. As a doctor, you have a responsibility and ethical duty towards your patients and yourself. And precisely due to these responsibilities, you will make mistakes due to the intensity of your new role and everything it entails.
Everyone, including your supervisors, makes mistakes. However, since society holds doctors to a higher standard, those mistakes are costlier than others. You may face issues that stem from the pressure of working 80-hour weeks with a few meager hours to rest and rewind. Unfortunately, those issues may prevent you from completing your residency successfully.
Dismissal from California Residency Programs
Any personal or professional mistake threatens your career and reputation during your residency training, which lasts years. This risk holds especially true considering California is a competitive state for aspiring residents, with national and international graduates vying for placement in its programs and teaching hospitals.
Whether you're a first-year intern or a more advanced medical resident, the pressure to learn and meet your program's standards grows with your advancement. The risks of encountering issues also increase, not just on the professional scale. Personal and professional behavior, competency, and adherence to the rules all come under scrutiny. Each category may impede advancement or lead to dismissal from the program, especially with multiple violations, chronic underperformance, or egregious mistakes.
Ethical Personal or Professional Behavior
Unlike other professions that give people leeway to make mistakes and maintain a semblance of privacy, being a doctor means that you're in a position of public trust. Doctors receive thorough training and instruction on maintaining personal and professional behavior.
The American Medical Association (AMA) also established a national codification of medical ethics to improve public health and quality of care. Examples of ethical and professional violations include:
- Consistent inability to manage stress leading to medical errors and grievances with team members
- Irresponsible social media use
- Allegations of sexual misconduct
- Accepting bribes
- Discrimination against others based on race, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, or nationality
- Making patient care decisions despite a conflict of interest
- Public intoxication or substance abuse during the job
- A DUI or physical assault charge
- Stealing pharmaceuticals from the hospital
Any action demonstrating a lack of ethics can lead to sanctions or dismissal, devastatingly impacting a resident's future career prospects.
Even if you are the most ethical resident in the teaching hospital, you cannot get far without mastering the core competencies in the medical field. According to the Accreditation Council for Medical Education (ACGME), residents must have competency in six areas to practice medicine:
- Patient Care: Medical residents must provide high-quality, compassionate care with relevant, appropriate, and effective treatment of health issues.
- Medical Knowledge: As a resident, your education in biomedical and clinical knowledge extends beyond the theoretical. You must also understand how to apply it as you care for patients.
- Practice-based Learning and Improvement: Your residency aims to improve your skills and prepare you for the rigors of your profession. Because of this expectation, you must consistently introspect, self-evaluate your performance, and enhance your proficiency over time.
- Interpersonal and Communication Skills: One essential skill to build as a doctor is the art of communication. You'll speak with countless people such as patients, other doctors, supervisors, medical staff, and your employees. Knowing how to communicate reduces the likelihood of fatal errors and lets you collaborate and exchange information effectively with others.
- Professionalism: Doctors must be professional and responsible. These qualities come from an adherence to ethical principles and being sensitive to the needs of others. Violating these principles leads to multiple issues and may cost you your residency or license.
- Systems-based Practice: You must show awareness of and competency in healthcare systems used nationwide and in California.
Sanctions and the Disciplinary Board
Every teaching hospital has a disciplinary board that enforces hospital and program policy compliance. Students may receive sanctions from the board if they engage in behavior that violates these policies. Depending on the violation, the penalty ranges from a verbal reprimand to a complete dismissal from the program. Even probation or a temporary dismissal can cause issues for you after completing the program.
When you want to work as a doctor in California, you must disclose any disciplinary action against you during your tenure as a resident. If you have a serious violation on your record, it may pose a challenge to obtaining or keeping your license to practice. Unfortunately, many residents assume that they can face a disciplinary board alone. This assumption may result in a disappointing outcome that impacts your reputation and professional opportunities adversely in the long term.
Hiring an Attorney-Advisor
Whether you're a first-year intern or a third-year resident, completing your program without major transgressions on your record is crucial to becoming a doctor. However, even the most careful residents will make mistakes. Depending on the severity of the issue, you may no longer be able to practice medicine. During these stressful times, you need the guidance of an expert who understands how to navigate the process.
Attorney-Advisor Joseph D. Lento and his team have years of experience working with medical residents across the United States facing sanctions from a disciplinary board. As a national medical resident attorney, Joseph D. Lento negotiates with the program or teaching hospital's general counsel team to help reach a reasonable resolution and avoid litigation. With his experience, knowledge, and dedication, Attorney-Advisor Lento improves your chances of a favorable case outcome.
Don't let a mistake during your residency mean the end of your tenure. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 or send a message through the online portal for more information.