Established in 2013, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine (UTRGV SOM) trains medical professionals to serve the Rio Grande Valley and surrounding areas. It is one of the latest efforts by the UT system to extend quality medical care to underserved parts of the state.
The UTRGV SOM contains at least 20 departments, offering training in specialties including human genetics, cancer research, pediatrics, surgery, and neuroscience. No matter a student's specific focus, they must abide by UTRGV's standards for academic achievement, professionalism, and ethical conduct.
If you find yourself facing any formal actions as a student at the UTRGV SOM, an attorney-advisor will delve into your case. They will determine the most appropriate course of action to protect your immediate and long-term future.
The UTRGV SOM Honor Code
UTRGV bases the medical students' honor code on three primary pillars. Those pillars are:
1. “I will promote and maintain an honest and effective learning environment.”
Per the UTRGV Student Handbook Appendix B, this pledge requires medical students to exhibit professional conduct, report professional misconduct, promote mastery of skills, and be honest (among other duties).
2. “I will place primary emphasis on the health and welfare of patients.”
This pledge compels UTRGV SOM students to honor each patient's trust, display compassion, and preserve patient confidentiality.
3. “I will conduct myself at all times in a professional manner.”
“A professional manner” is one in which the student is hygienic, responsible, unimpaired, cooperative with colleagues, and respectful of others.
UTRGV SOM students must also honor The Vaquero Honor Code, which applies to all UT Rio Grande Valley system students.
Violations of UTRGV's codes of honor and professionalism could result in dismissal from the university. Substandard academic performance may also initiate formal consequences, including but not limited to remediation or dismissal.
UTRGV SOM lists technical standards that every student must meet to graduate. The university's technical requirements include:
- Minimum physical abilities
- Minimum cognitive abilities
- Sufficient mental and emotional stability
- Completion of the entire course of study
- Completion of all aspects of medical training
The Student Handbook explains the logic behind these standards:
“The School of Medicine intends for its graduates to become competent and compassionate physicians who are capable of entering residency training (graduate medical education) and meeting all requirements for medical licensure.”
If you fail to meet these standards at any time during your medical schooling or training, you may face the prospect of remediation. Section 5.3.3 of the UTRGV SOM Student Handbook states that students may be required to remediate (retake) a course if they do not pass:
- A module
- A clerkship
- An elective
- A selective
The Central Curricular Authority Committee (CCAC) sets the guidelines for remediation. Assistant Deans for Medical Education enforce the guidelines for remediation. The Medical Student Evaluation and Promotion Committee (MSEPC) determines whether a student has successfully completed remediation and is eligible for promotion.
Remediation can be a path to advancement and ultimate graduation from UTRGV SOM. However, some students may not believe that remediation is necessary. Considering that a grade of 69% constitutes failure, a mere percentage point could allow you to avoid remediation (and indications of remediation on your academic record).
A successful academic grievance may result in a grade change. An improved grade may allow you to avoid retaking a module, examination, or an entire course. An attorney-advisor will explore the potential of an academic grievance and handle this process if it is appropriate.
Most medical programs, including UTRGV SOM, can dismiss you for poor academic performance, alleged ethical misconduct, or alleged unprofessional conduct. As you may suspect, a dismissal from UTRGV may be a profoundly life-altering event.
Expulsion from your current medical school may cause:
- Significant mental and emotional hardship
- A temporary or permanent derailing of your medical aspirations
- Loss of your academic progress
- A permanent record of dismissal that prevents acceptance to other universities
- Loss of future earning power
Dismissed students are generally beholden to immense student debt, making an expulsion even more damaging. Even consequences less severe than dismissal—suspension, a forced leave of absence, failing grades, and remediation among them—can cause significant harm.
It is always in your interest to avoid any academic disruption. An attorney-advisor will contest and appeal any adverse consequences that you face.
UTRGV SOM's Procedures for Appeal
The term “academic grievance” is synonymous with “appeal” in the eyes of UTRGV SOM. An academic grievance allows you to appeal:
- An exam score
- A module score
- A course or clerkship grade
- A ruling related to remediation or course repetition
- A suspension or dismissal
Once informed of a decision, you have five business days to file an appeal. You (or your attorney-advisor) will file this appeal with both the Senior Associate Dean for Education and Academic Affairs and the Chair of the Medical Student Evaluation and Promotion Committee.
You will then meet with both the Senior Associate Dean and the MSEPC to explain, in detail, the rationale for your grievance. You will also propose a resolution, which is a detail unique to UTRGV SOM.
The MSEPC will issue a decision no more than five business days following your meeting with its members. Following the MSEPC's decision, you may file an appeal with the Dean of the UTRGV SOM if necessary.
Retaining an Attorney-Advisor
You may be expected to continue coursework throughout the appeals process. Even before any necessary appeal, you may need to balance your life as a student with any pending administrative process.
Even if you had the time and ability to lodge a successful defense or appeal, doing so can be extremely stressful. As your attorney-advisor, Joseph D. Lento will protect your rights and free you of case-related responsibilities. An experienced advisor with knowledge of medical student issues can be a tremendous asset at this critical time in your life.
Call the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 for details about how we serve medical students like you. You may also contact us online.