If becoming a doctor was easy, anyone could do it. The fact is doctors are held to incredibly high standards. It isn't just that you have to have a deep understanding of the human body and how to treat it. Doctors are also held to the very highest standards of ethics and professionalism. Even your personal life is subject to scrutiny.
You've made it through medical school and are serving your residency. You've come a long way. The expectations, though, are higher than they've ever been, as are the stakes. If you should fail now, you'll have wasted all those years, all that hard work, and all that money.
We all make mistakes, even doctors. Don't let a mistake derail your career. If you're facing action from your hospital's disciplinary board, get help. An attorney who understands how medical residency programs work and who has experience representing resident clients can help you salvage your future.
We all want doctors who are absolute experts in their field. Attaining that expertise begins in medical school, but you master it during your residency. What does expertise mean? The Accreditation Council for Medical Education (ACGME) requires you to meet competencies in six separate areas.
- Patient Care: Being a successful doctor requires establishing trust with your patients. It also means being able to work with them to identify and respond to medical problems.
- Medical Knowledge: You are expected to have not just a theoretical understanding of the human body and how it works but also a more practical facility with how to treat it.
- Practice-based Learning and Improvement: A career in medicine involves lifelong learning. This means knowing how to learn: understanding how to evaluate yourself, mastering methods for finding information, and discovering processes for absorbing that information.
- Interpersonal and Communication Skills: Your bedside manner—your ability to communicate effectively with your patients—matters. So too, though, does your ability to work with colleagues, supervisors, employees, and other medical staff.
- Professionalism: Knowing how to behave as a doctor means being rooted in ethics and understanding your responsibility to meet the needs of others.
- Systems-based Practice: Finally, if you are to be effective, you must know how to work within the systems of medicine, what national and local laws govern your field, how the Idaho medical system operates, and how your individual hospital works.
Failing to meet competency standards doesn't necessarily mean the end of your career. After all, you're still in the process of learning, and your program expects you to make mistakes along the way. Repeated mistakes, though, or a history of problems, can put your future as a doctor in jeopardy.
Ethical, Professional, and Personal Behavior
Med students and residents are sometimes surprised to find that the standards for their professional and personal behavior can be higher than those for their medical competence. The fact is, being a doctor means holding a position of public trust. That means even your private life can be subject to scrutiny. In simplest terms, if you can't manage your personal life, your credentials as a healer are suspect.
The American Medical Association has established a national code of medical ethics to help doctors better understand their professional obligations. Violations of this code might include things like:
- Sharing confidential patient information
- Practicing medicine despite a conflict of interest
- Failing to manage stress, leading to medical errors or poor communication
- Discriminating against others
- Accepting bribes
- Stealing medications
- Misusing social media
- Receiving a DUI or being convicted of physical assault
- Committing sexual misconduct
- Drinking on the job
While your residency program may be willing to work with you to meet your six core competencies, it likely has little patience for ethical or professional misconduct. Violating your ethical responsibilities will almost always leave you subject to dismissal.
Facing the Disciplinary Board
Every teaching hospital has its own disciplinary board. This group administers and enforces hospital policy. You can be called before the board for lapses in competency or professionalism and face sanctions, from verbal and written warnings to reductions in pay to complete dismissal from the program.
Obviously, dismissal likely means the end of your career. However, even more minor sanctions can have lasting, long-term effects on your future as a doctor. When it's time to go before the Idaho medical board to apply for your license, you are required to disclose any disciplinary actions from your residency. Even probation or temporary suspension from your program could keep you from obtaining a license to practice medicine.
Many residents assume they must face their hospital disciplinary board alone. In fact, an attorney can offer valuable service any time you're facing an accusation or a sanction. In many cases, your attorney may be able to accompany you to any disciplinary meetings or hearings. Even when they can't, though, they can still help you prepare your case, draft documents, and practice responding to questions.
How Can Joseph D. Lento Help
Medical residents are under enormous pressure, sometimes working 80 hours a week or more. Those kinds of conditions lead to mistakes. Indeed, that's part of the process: finding out just how much stress you can take and still do your job to the highest standards. Being tested under fire is one thing; it shouldn't mean you have to suffer irreparable consequences.
Joseph D. Lento is a fully-qualified, licensed defense attorney. His specialty is in defending med students and residents. Joseph D. Lento has helped hundreds of residents handle charges, from accusations of negligence to allegations of sexual misconduct. Joseph D. Lento knows the law and how it applies to medical residents. He also knows how residencies work. He'll protect your rights and make sure you get the very best possible resolution to your case.
If you've been called before your disciplinary board, don't wait. The board is already preparing its case. You should be too. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.