Medical Student Dismissals

The Prospect of Medical School Discipline

Medical school is an incredible privilege. Medical school can also be an incredible challenge. If they didn't know it before entering medical school, medical students quickly realize how seriously students must take their obligations to learn the science and medical practices that make for competent care. Medical students must succeed on frequent successive medical exams, all pointing toward licensing exams that are the gateway for entering the profession. The many medical graduates who specialize must also prepare for board certification. Medical students can't fake competence. The schools ensure, through frequent rigorous assessments, that every graduate meets minimum requirements. And those students who can't or don't meet all medical school academic, behavioral, and professional requirements face medical school discipline. That's when the wise medical student retains a skilled and experienced medical school attorney. Medical school dismissal attorney Joseph D. Lento offers students premier discipline defense services. When your medical career is on the line, you need and deserve the best.

The Frequency of Medical School Dismissal

Medical school's rigors, and other conditions, events, and circumstances produce about a three-percent attrition rate across all medical schools, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges. Three percent may not sound like a lot, but even that small figure represents an enormous loss to the students who made the commitment but didn't succeed in persisting through the program to graduation. And the same story indicates that attrition rates are significantly higher for certain medical-student populations. Medical school dismissals happen. Medical students need to take a realistic view of the causes of and grounds for dismissal, how to avoid dismissal, and how to manage dismissal if it happens. If you face medical school disciplinary charges, don't underestimate the risks or stakes. Medical school dismissal happens. The prospects for your medical school dismissal are real. And you have everything you've worked for and hope to achieve in medicine on the line. Don't seek inexpensive, inexperienced, and unqualified attorney representation. Disciplinary proceedings are not the time or place to try to do things on the cheap. Be smart and wise. Retain premier medical school dismissal attorney Joseph D. Lento for your winning medical school defense.

Medical School Dismissal: An Expensive Proposition

Medical students under disciplinary charges risking dismissal face an expensive proposition. Medical school dismissal is, frankly, a financial disaster. One education data initiative indicates that medical school debt averages $215,000. That's a big investment. And that $215,000 figure is only the medical school portion of medical graduate debt. The same source indicates that total medical graduate debt, including pre-med program debt, averages $241,600. And that's only the average. Medical graduate debt can be as high as $300,000 or even $400,000. Those large figures don't even count the other costs of medical school. Medical students largely or entirely forgo other earnings during their pre-medical and medical school years until they begin residency. If the medical student had instead earned a median income during those school years, those forgone earnings could add a couple hundred thousand dollars more to the effective investment in a student's medical education. Dismissal can thus easily cost a medical student a quarter-million-dollar or even a half-million-dollar investment. And that's only the investment. If one instead measures the medical degree's value by its expected return, dismissal can be a million-dollar or more losing proposition.

The Value of a Premier Medical School Attorney

Given the enormous financial investment and return that a medical school student facing dismissal has at stake, the wise medical student devotes the finances, time, and effort necessary to minimize the dismissal risk. The moment you suspect that disciplinary charges are coming, or you receive your first notice of those charges, you should be preparing to protect your medical school investment with premier medical school attorney services. You could hire a local criminal defense attorney to defend your medical school's charges. But local criminal attorneys practice in local criminal courts, not academic administrative matters. Local criminal attorneys rarely, if ever, have substantial knowledge, skill, and experience with academic matters, administrative proceedings, federal education regulations, constitutional due process law, and medical school norms, customs, conventions, and standards. A premier medical school attorney can quickly bring the precise knowledge and skills you most need to bear to preserve your medical education and eliminate your expensive dismissal risk. Your best move to protect your enormous investment is to promptly retain medical school dismissal attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's student defense team for the preeminent skills, experience, reputation, and professional defense network and team you need.

Medical School Dismissal Types

Medical students risk dismissal at every medical school stage, not just at critical step examinations or clinical rotation evaluations. Medical school dismissals fall into four broad categories. First, medical students may fail to demonstrate the requisite academic knowledge, suffering dismissal under academic standards. Medical students may alternatively fail to demonstrate the requisite clinical skill, suffering dismissal for medical errors and incompetence even if they have the requisite academic knowledge. Yet medical students with comprehensive academic knowledge and sound skills may nonetheless fail in their professionalism obligations, like treating patients, supervisors, and colleagues with respect and attending to duties without undue absence or neglect. Violating professional norms and ethics can result in dismissal as an unfit professional. And finally, medical students may face dismissal for behavioral misconduct like drug or alcohol abuse, criminal conduct, sexual misconduct, or interpersonal violence that undermines the confidence of patients, employers, and colleagues in the student's character, safety, and security. Each type of disciplinary proceeding, whether academic, clinical, professional, or behavioral, requires a subtly or distinctly different strategic approach in defense. Retain medical school dismissal attorney Joseph D. Lento for the strategic approach necessary to win your medical school disciplinary proceeding.

Medical School Dismissal Stages

Medical students also risk dismissal at every medical school stage, not just at critical step examinations or clinical rotation evaluations. Dismissal can occur early in the classroom stage of the medical school program, in the middle clinical stages of the program, and even late in the program during residency. The types of dismissal can vary somewhat at each stage. But dismissal is a real risk at every stage of the medical school program. And dismissal is painful, expensive, and damaging at every stage, whether early, midway, or late in the medical education.

Early Classroom Stage Dismissal

Failing one or more first-year required classroom courses, getting low grades in several early classroom courses, or withdrawing from classroom courses or leaving them incomplete can lead to satisfactory academic progress (SAP) dismissal. Medical schools maintain SAP standards for grade point minimums and percentage of credits completed that medical students must meet. Failure to do so can result in dismissal. Students can also suffer dismissal during the early classroom stage of medical school for behavioral misconduct.

Middle Clinical Stage Dismissal

Medical students can also suffer dismissal during the middle clinical stage of medical school programs. Clinical courses require not just the acquisition of medical knowledge but the skilled use and application of that knowledge. Learning and applying are two very different skill sets. The student who does supremely well with classroom learning may exhibit inadequate clinical skills, resulting in poor or failing evaluations from clinical supervisors. Clinical evaluation can also be subjective, reflecting supervisor bias or error. Clinical supervisors make their own administrative and evaluation errors, subjecting students to the risk of dismissal. Students can also face dismissal during clinical courses for behavioral issues like substance abuse and sexual harassment or for professionalism issues like conflict with supervisors and clinic staff or patient abuse or neglect.

Late Stage Dismissal

Medical students can also face late-stage dismissal when they are unable to pass all step exams. Medical students with disabilities requiring exam accommodations, but not asking for or getting those accommodations, face a particular risk of dismissal. Medical graduates can also face dismissal from medical residencies. Medical residency dismissal, termination, or non-renewal most commonly involves errors in clinical judgment or professionalism issues like patient abuse or neglect and conflict with supervisors and colleagues. Residency dismissals can also involve behavioral issues like committing theft, drug, or other serious crimes, or alcohol or substance abuse. No matter the stage at which you are in your medical education, you face dismissal risks. Retain medical school dismissal attorney Joseph D. Lento to help you defend disciplinary charges at whatever stage of your medical education those charges occur.

Medical School Disciplinary Action Authority

Medical schools certainly have the authority to dismiss a medical student, provided that the school has justifiable grounds. Medical schools build that dismissal authority not only into the tuition agreement, conduct codes, and professionalism policies that are the foundational terms on which medical schools admit students. Medical schools also build dismissal authority into the curriculum itself. The entire curriculum of medical school unfolds as a series of rigorous classroom and clinical studies, the minimum criteria for which students must meet to advance. The fact that more students do not suffer medical school disciplinary action under the pressure of these enormously challenging studies is no doubt due to the very high admission standards for medical schools. To get into medical school, medical students have already proven that they know how to study. Some medical school students simply can't make the grade, but one often has to look to other causes and grounds to explain medical school disciplinary action. The schools, though, retain clear authority to require medical students to meet their tuition requirements and conduct, professionalism, and academic standards.

Limits on Medical School Dismissal Authority

Legal Constraints. Fortunately, though, medical schools do not have absolute authority to dismiss students for any reason or no reason at all, on a whim or with caprice. Medical schools commonly face four distinct legal limits and several other institutional constraints on their power to dismiss students. Constitutional due process is the first legal constraint, applicable to public medical schools like those at Ohio State University and the University of Missouri. Due process means that the medical school must give the student notice and a fair hearing before dismissal. Private medical schools like the ones at Northwestern University and Duke University tend to accept similar obligations regarding medical school dismissal, which other laws may impose.

The student's contract with the medical school is another source of legal constraint on the school's power to dismiss. Medical school dismissal in bad faith may breach the promise the school makes when it accepts the student's tuition. Administrative law can be another limit to the medical school's power to dismiss. Federal Title IX regulations, for instance, require medical schools to grant certain procedural rights to students whom the schools accuse of certain forms of sexual misconduct. And tort law may grant medical students the right to be free from intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, defamation, and other harms. Medical schools can't get away with anything when dismissing students. National medical school dismissal attorney Joseph D. Lento represents medical and other students nationwide, challenging dismissals that violate student rights.

Institutional Constraints. Medical schools face other internal, institutional limits on their powers to dismiss students. For instance, the school's financial interests tend to favor student retention. The school's reputational interests can also favor student retention, at least in those cases where the student facing dismissal is of good character and reputation, with a supportive alumni or similar network. Schools can get a bad name by kicking students out willy-nilly. Medical school departments and faculty members also build their reputations for effective teaching on retention, not attrition. And medical school officials can well understand and appreciate the moral grounds for retaining and teaching students, rather than taking their tuition money, teaching them poorly, and kicking them out at great student cost and loss. National medical school dismissal attorney Joseph D. Lento knows how to advocate these and other internal, institutional grounds for students facing medical school dismissal.

Causes of Medical School Dismissal

Causes Within the Medical Student's Control. Medical school dismissal ordinarily doesn't just suddenly happen on its own, out of nowhere. Medical students are usually aware of the onset of causes for impending medical school dismissal. Some of those causes are within the medical student's control, such as when they take on too much, fail to prioritize, fail to adjust, or stop the habits and disciplines they know to be necessary to continued success. Medical students can often bounce back from self-inflicted failures before medical school dismissal, as this story from the American Association of Medical Colleges attests. Students facing medical school dismissal due to circumstances within their control should consult medical school dismissal attorney Joseph D. Lento for his help presenting recovery plans and mitigating circumstances to the school to forestall dismissal.

Causes Outside the Medical Student's Control. Other causes for medical school dismissal can arise from outside the medical student's control. Principal among those causes is illness or injury, either of the medical student or a family member dependent on the medical student's care. International students might encounter visa trouble. Some medical students have a sudden unexpected financial loss, loss of loans or aid, or other financial disruptions threatening their ability to proceed. Medical schools can, with the student's involvement and advocacy, often work with the student to help the student navigate external challenges. Medical school dismissal attorney Joseph Lento helps students negotiate with school officials for realistic plans to overcome those external challenges before dismissal happens.

Causes Not Attributable to the Medical Student at All. While academic attorney representation can certainly help a medical student avoid dismissal based on causes within or outside the student's control, medical school attorney Joseph Lento's critical service is to help students avoid or correct dismissal when the causes the school mistakenly discerns are not attributable to the student at all. Medical schools make academic, administrative, financial, and procedural mistakes, any of which can result in an innocent, earnest, and competent student's erroneous medical school dismissal. Medical school officials can also, on occasion, act harshly, unfairly, and capriciously in dismissing a student, whether for no cause at all or in a discriminatory or retaliatory fashion. National medical school attorney Joseph Lento has the litigation and trial skills and academic experience to gather, organize, and present the evidence proving erroneous medical school dismissal. Don't let your medical school treat you unfairly. Help is available.

Medical School Codes Imposing Dismissal

Medical schools routinely maintain codes of professional conduct to which they expect their students to conform on penalty of sanction up to dismissal. Medical school codes of professional conduct, like this one at Duke University School of Medicine, draw on several sources for their prescriptions and proscriptions of student conduct. The first source is the college or university conduct code, including not just behavioral and academic misconduct provisions but also the school's Title IX sexual misconduct policy. A second source for medical school conduct standards is national and state accrediting and licensing standards. A third source is the ethical code of national and state medical associations. Medical school codes like the one at Duke's School of Medicine can also draw procedural rights and responsibilities from the civil justice system. National medical school attorney Joseph D. Lento can help medical students discern the authority that the student's school is applying or purporting to apply when threatening a student with dismissal.

Grounds for Medical School Dismissal

Medical school codes of professional conduct, and the college or university codes, accrediting and licensing standards, and professional association principles to which they refer together enumerate common academic, behavioral, and professional grounds on which to discipline students up to dismissal. Common academic grounds on which a student could suffer medical school dismissal include:

  • Repeated failures to prepare for courses, labs, and clinical rounds
  • Repeated failures to complete required readings and coursework
  • Repeated failures to complete and pass block term or board exams
  • Repeated withdrawals and incompletes in attempted courses
  • Failing to enroll for minimum required credits in consecutive terms
  • Failing to make satisfactory academic progress toward graduation
  • Failing to complete clinical hours within the time allotted
  • Repeated substandard clinical performance

The foregoing academic grounds may present the medical student's greatest challenge. Yet medical students can also exhibit behavioral issues exacerbated by the pressures and stresses of medical school. Behavioral grounds on which a student could suffer medical school dismissal include:

  • Alcohol abuse, drug abuse, impaired concentration and attention from sleeplessness or depression, and other addictions or irregular behaviors often associated with stress
  • Title IX sexual misconduct, including sexual violence, harassment, or quid pro quo favors, or non-Title IX sexual misconduct, including voyeurism, exposure, and prostitution
  • Non-sexual threats and violence, theft, conversion, vandalism, trespass, and misuse of school computers such as in hacking or with pornography or cyber-bullying

The professionalism grounds on which students could suffer discipline up to medical school dismissal include:

  • Failing to obtain patient consent to the medical care provided
  • Exceeding the scope of patient consent without authorizing emergency
  • Recommending or providing unnecessary medical testing or services
  • Misrepresenting the therapy, treatment, or procedure to the patient
  • Providing medical care or attempting medical care while impaired
  • Abandoning a medical patient without stabilizing the patient's condition
  • Refusing critical emergency care when on duty to provide it
  • Failing to report abuse or neglect of a child patient as the law requires
  • Harassing nurses, aides, or other subordinates, disrupting care
  • Using medical practice to coerce undue advantages from patients
  • Ringing the profession into ill repute through acts of violence or passion

Pre-Dismissal Medical School Disciplinary Action

Medical school dismissal is not an all-or-nothing thing. When a medical school initiates disciplinary proceedings, the possible outcomes are more than just dismissal or no dismissal. Medical school disciplinary proceedings can result in pre-dismissal disciplinary action short of dismissal. Medical school disciplinary proceedings can also result in pre-dismissal disciplinary action that leads to dismissal. Pre-dismissal disciplinary action can thus be critically important to the accused medical student's overall discipline outcome and the student's ability to complete medical school, earn the degree, and obtain a residency, job, and career in medicine. Pay attention to pre-dismissal disciplinary action. Don't take the attitude that any discipline short of dismissal is acceptable discipline. The contrary may well be the case that pre-dismissal disciplinary action hampers or destroys critical opportunities to progress through the program. In the worst case, pre-dismissal disciplinary action can become a setup for sure dismissal to follow. Don't accept your medical school's offer for pre-dismissal disciplinary action as an alternative to dismissal without first retaining and consulting medical school dismissal attorney Joseph D. Lento. Get the skilled and experienced representation you need to understand the impact of pre-dismissal medical school disciplinary action.

Pre-Dismissal Medical School Disciplinary Outcomes

Medical school conduct codes generally specify a wide range of possible outcomes for disciplinary proceedings, not just dismissal. Boston University School of Medicine's Medical Student Disciplinary Code of Academic and Professional Conduct is an example. Under Boston University School of Medicine's code, dismissal is clearly one possible outcome of disciplinary charges. But lesser sanctions are also possible under the school's code, as is typical of other medical schools' conduct policies. Boston University School of Medicine, like some other medical schools, divides sanctions between major and other sanctions. Major sanctions include dismissal or expulsion. Major sanctions also include something arguably worse in the form of denial or revocation of a degree already earned or conferred. But major sanctions also include suspension for a specified period and denial or revocation of credit, grades, or honors, and imposition of a failing course grade. Other sanctions include probation, counseling, reprimand, restitution for damage, loss, costs, or expenses, and impounding of prohibited equipment or materials. Georgetown University's School of Medicine, for another example, maintains similarly broad sanctions in its Student Handbook. Dismissal is not the only medical school disciplinary action. Depending on the nature of your charges, your particular circumstances, and the quality of the defense your retained medical school attorney raises, you may beat the charge and incur no sanction, or you may incur a sanction less than dismissal. Medical schools may also temporarily remove a potentially dangerous student facing disciplinary charges as a safety and security measure.

Standards for Pre-Dismissal Disciplinary Action

Medical schools generally maintain some standards for determining whether to dismiss a student or instead impose only pre-dismissal disciplinary action. School officials with substantial experience in disciplinary actions generally have some idea of what they anticipate the outcome to be when initiating charges, although one hopes that they also keep an open mind depending on the investigation and hearing. Although every case outcome should depend on its peculiar facts and circumstances, medical schools and other schools generally seek some consistency in the application of sanctions. Indeed, disproportionate sanctions, like dismissal in one case but only an oral reprimand in a similar case, can be grounds for appeal and reversal of the more-severe sanction. See, for example, this press report of a University of Utah medical student suing over his two-year suspension from medical school for non-consensual sexual contact with another student, claiming that the two-year suspension was shockingly disproportionate to the relatively minor charge. The primary standard for medical school discipline is that the sanction must fit the character of the violation. Other factors can include the severity of the misconduct, whether the accused student repeated the misconduct, whether the accused student engaged in prior or subsequent misconduct, whether the student falsely denied or concealed the misconduct, whether the student committed the misconduct under mitigating circumstances, and whether the student is likely to reform the student's conduct to conform to school standards. See, for example, this list of mitigating and exacerbating factors Georgetown University's Honor Council follows for determining student sanctions.

Disciplinary Outcomes Avoiding Medical School Dismissal

Pre-dismissal sanction standards give your retained medical school defense attorney a prime opportunity to advocate for outcomes avoiding dismissal. The key to disciplinary outcomes less than dismissal is that the disciplined student does not let that disciplinary outcome anticipate, set up, or otherwise lead to dismissal. Medical school disciplinary proceedings can result in disciplinary action short of dismissal, without anticipating dismissal, and in the mutual hope and expectation of both school officials and the accused student that dismissal will not result in the future. When medical school officials accuse students of misconduct and initiate a disciplinary proceeding, they may not necessarily have dismissal in mind. Even if they do have dismissal in mind, a compelling defense presentation may disabuse them of imposing that outcome. These pre-dismissal disciplinary outcomes clearly do not anticipate dismissal and may, depending on the disciplinary record they leave or do not leave, be acceptable negotiated outcomes:

  • Oral warning, caution, or instruction clarifying the student's obligations under school conduct policies
  • Reflective paper or journaling when construed as aiding the student in professional development rather than admitting misconduct
  • Counseling or education construed as a remedial rather than punitive action so that it leaves no record of misconduct sanctions
  • Restitution for unintentional damages, loss, costs, or expense, again leaving no record or inference of deliberate wrongdoing
  • Return of personal property, including coursework or materials, if construed as mistaken possession rather than deliberate conversion or theft

Disciplinary Action Increasing the Likelihood of Dismissal

Medical school disciplinary proceedings can also result in pre-dismissal disciplinary action that does not clearly anticipate dismissal but substantially increases the likelihood of dismissal. Pre-dismissal disciplinary action increasing the likelihood of dismissal generally leaves a record of discipline potentially affecting the student's residency, reputation, employment, and career, even if the disciplinary action does not lead to medical school dismissal. Students facing pre-dismissal medical school disciplinary action should thus make appropriate efforts to avoid discipline, increasing the likelihood of dismissal. The best action to take if you face disciplinary charges likely to result in a sanction that increases the likelihood of your dismissal is to retain medical school defense attorney Joseph D. Lento to defend and defeat those charges. Even if the charge results in misconduct findings, a compelling presentation of mitigating evidence may reduce the disciplinary action to an acceptable outcome. Avoid these pre-dismissal outcomes that increase the likelihood of eventual dismissal:

  • Extra coursework including remedial programs and assignments that, while ostensibly aimed at improving the student's academic performance, instead increase the student's study burden and distraction, setting the student up for further failure
  • Repeated courses or assignments that throw the student off schedule, isolate the student from mentors, study groups, and entrant peers, and discourage the student from persisting
  • Written reprimands setting conditions for bringing the student back into compliance that the student may not be able to meet or that increase the risk of false, unfair, or subjective allegations of violations
  • No contact orders or other restrictions on privileges that the student may unintentionally or accidentally violate, leading to further disciplinary charges for a repeat or enhanced violation
  • Denial or revocation of course credit, imposition of a failing grade, or reduction of a grade that places the student on probation or at risk of probation for unsatisfactory academic progress

Disciplinary Action Anticipating Dismissal

Medical school disciplinary proceedings can also result in pre-dismissal disciplinary action that appears to anticipate and is very likely or sure to lead to dismissal. Obviously, students should take every reasonable step to avoid pre-dismissal disciplinary actions that set the student up for dismissal. Experienced school disciplinary officials generally know how students tend to respond to different forms of discipline under their different circumstances. School officials can often see dismissal coming after a pre-dismissal disciplinary action, even for the student to whom the school has not clearly indicated the probability of dismissal. Sometimes, medical school disciplinary officials appear in their pre-dismissal sanctions to be indicating that they are giving the disciplined student one last shot under circumstances where they expect the student to blow it and suffer dismissal. Don't accept any such pre-dismissal sanction out of an act of desperation. Instead, retain medical school defense attorney Joseph D. Lento to defend and defeat the disciplinary charge while presenting mitigating evidence warranting an acceptable outcome.

Influencing Pre-Dismissal Disciplinary Outcomes

Students facing medical school disciplinary action can influence pre-dismissal disciplinary outcomes. Defending a medical school disciplinary proceeding isn't simply a matter of fighting the disciplinary charge and then letting the school do as it wishes with pre-dismissal disciplinary sanctions. In many cases, especially those where the school has substantial evidence of the student's disciplinary violation, a strategic defense both challenges the disciplinary charge and makes the best case for mitigating any sanction if the school should find the charge to be valid. Identifying and presenting mitigating evidence can be a critically important approach for a successful pre-dismissal disciplinary action outcome. Retain medical school defense attorney Joseph D. Lento to help you identify, gather, organize, and present evidence and arguments in mitigation of any disciplinary violation. Mitigating evidence can include many conditions, facts, events, and circumstances, including the following:

  • The accused student's psychiatric or other mental or emotional disability
  • The accused student's physical health or illness
  • The accused student's obligations to care for dependent family members
  • Death or serious illness of a family member or loved one
  • The accused student's outstanding record of academic achievement
  • The accused student's outstanding character for empathy and compassion
  • The accused student's active support of other students and the school
  • The accused student's honest, open, and cooperative response to charges
  • The accused student's overall commitment to the medical profession
  • The accused student's clean record for other misconduct
  • The unlikelihood that the accused student will repeat the misconduct
  • That no harm resulted from any misconduct
  • That the accused student has already reformed the student's conduct

What Medical School Dismissal Means

Medical school dismissal can devastate a student's medical career and education. Typically, the dismissed medical student cannot re-enroll or restart at the school. Medical school dismissal is often permanent. The dismissed student also faces enormous challenges gaining transfer or admission to another medical school, especially if the dismissal had to do with unexplained academic failures, bad character, and lack of fitness. Of course, dismissal without a medical degree means the student cannot qualify for licensing as a practicing physician. Medical school dismissal thus means loss of physician employment and career. Medical school dismissal also brings loss of financial aid and scholarships and acceleration of educational debt for payment. A dismissed medical student living in university housing and depending on university medical insurance will also lose those privileges. International students studying on a visa can lose legal residency. These are the primary losses medical school dismissal brings.

Avoiding Medical School Dismissal

Avoiding medical school dismissal, though, is often possible, especially with prompt representation from national medical school attorney Joseph Lento. The medical student facing dismissal must take the threat of dismissal seriously, retaining the best available counsel and prioritizing the matter. Attorney Lento helps students nationwide strategize to adopt and implement the best plan to avoid dismissal, depending on the cause and grounds, school policies, and procedures. Remember that medical schools have substantial interest in retaining students. Medical school dismissal, although possible, is usually far from a foregone conclusion. Retaining attorney Lento demonstrates to the school that the student is serious about addressing the concerns and negotiating sensible and achievable remedial plans and actions. Often, all the student facing medical school dismissal needs is a clear mind, skilled advocate, and experienced negotiator in the student's corner.

Options After Medical School Dismissal

A student who suffers medical school dismissal usually still has one or more good options for reinstatement and, moreover, to regain the student's footing in the medical program. Medical school dismissal is obviously devastating to the involved student. Medical school dismissal can frighten, depress, anger, and confuse the student. Yet medical school dismissal is the time for especially clear, concise, swift, firm, and effective student action. Medical school dismissal leaves no time for wallowing in self-pity, isolating oneself, and ignoring the whole matter. Instead, the student suffering medical school dismissal should promptly redouble the student's strategic efforts and concerted actions to preserve the medical education. No matter the advice and representation the student suffering medical school dismissal may have previously had, the student should promptly consult and retain medical school dismissal attorney Joseph D. Lento for aggressive and strategic pursuit of the remaining good options for reinstatement. Don't give up the fight at the first sign of medical school dismissal. Instead, retain premier medical school attorney Joseph D. Lento.

Medical School Dismissal Appeal

The first good remaining option after medical school dismissal is appeal of the initial dismissal decision. Medical schools routinely offer appeals from the initial dismissal decision. Depending on the procedure the medical school followed resulting in dismissal, constitutional due process may require that the medical school offer some form of appeal. An appeal is also a customary procedure that medical schools offer, like the appeal policy at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. An appeal involves a fresh review by a higher official whom the initial decision did not involve. In a sense, an appeal is a second chance before a new decision-maker. While a panel of professors, staff members, and medical students may have made the initial dismissal decision, an appeal usually goes to a dean or panel of higher school officials who take a fresh perspective on the entire matter. Those higher officials can have a broader view of both the medical school's interests and the dismissed student's interests. In an appeal, cooler heads sometimes prevail. Higher appeal officials who review the hearing transcript but don't hear any witnesses will not have experienced the same emotional involvement and impact that decision-makers experienced.

Medical School Dismissal Appeal Grounds

Medical school dismissal appeals generally require showing reversible error in the initial decision. Appeals are not generally re-hearings of the same evidence. Appeals instead involve examination of the investigation and hearing record for grounds like evident bias of investigators or decision-makers, conflicts of interest, evidentiary gaps, disproportionate sanctions, and other irregularities in the proceeding. The medical school's appeal procedures will generally specify the permissible appeal grounds. The appeal policy at the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine is an example stating, “In order to file any appeal, the student must produce some evidence of error beyond the student's simple assertion that the Grade Granting Unit or Board was wrong.” Repeating the same arguments and making the same assertions simply isn't enough to win a medical school dismissal appeal. Researching appeal rules and customs for permissible appeal grounds, evaluating the investigation and hearing record for appeal grounds, and drafting the appeal letter reflecting compelling grounds for reversal and reinstatement are all skills for national medical school attorney Joseph D. Lento, not for the student suffering dismissal. Medical students suffering dismissal generally lack the analysis and argumentation skills for effective appeals and are too closely and emotionally involved in the matter to make sound, reliable, and winning appeal arguments. Don't take a do-it-yourself approach. Instead, retain attorney Lento and the Lento Law Firm's student defense team for your winning medical school dismissal appeal.

Medical School Dismissal Appeal Letter

Medical school appeals of many academic or misconduct decisions are on the record, meaning they don't involve presentation of evidence, witnesses, and oral arguments at an appeal hearing. The University of Massachusetts School of Medicine appeal policy cited immediately above is an example under which most appeals are on the record. On-the-record appeals instead involve drafting and timely filing a medical school dismissal appeal letter with the correct school appeal official. An appeal letter serves both to commence the appeal and to make the arguments perfecting the appeal. Appeals are not automatic and self-executing. The student seeking to appeal a medical school dismissal must generally file a timely medical school dismissal appeal letter. A medical school dismissal appeal letter invokes the appeal process, requiring the medical school to present the medical school dismissal appeal letter to the appeal official or panel. Analyzing the record and drafting an effective appeal brief are tasks for a skilled academic attorney, not for just any lawyer, nor for the unrepresented medical student. Effective medical school dismissal appeal letters must cite the record, school policies, and legal authorities to make a compelling argument for reversal of the dismissal decision. Retain premier medical school dismissal attorney Joseph D. Lento for your winning appeal.

Medical School Dismissal Appeal Hearings

Some medical schools offer appeal hearings, not just on-the-record appeals, for some or all dismissal decisions. The University of Maryland School of Medicine is an example. Under the University of Maryland's appeal policy and similar policies at other medical schools, dismissal appeals go before an appeal panel for a hearing at which the dismissed student may present witnesses and documentary evidence against dismissal. An appeal procedure that invites documentary and testimonial evidence requires a different set of advocacy skills than an on-the-record appeal requires. An appeal hearing requires identifying the exonerating or mitigating evidence, preparing the hearing witnesses, and organizing and presenting the evidence around effective dismissal defenses. Appeal hearings can require much greater organization, presentation, and oral advocacy skills than on-the-record appeals. Do not attempt an appeal hearing on your own or with unqualified local criminal defense counsel. Instead, retain medical school dismissal attorney Joseph D. Lento for a winning approach to your medical school dismissal appeal hearing. A medical school dismissal appeal hearing is a great opportunity to reverse the dismissal decision and gain reinstatement to the program. Don't waste that opportunity with poor preparation and inadequate representation.

Alternative Special Relief to Medical School Dismissal Appeal

Do not give up hope or give up the fight for medical school reinstatement if a medical school dismissal appeal is not available or your appeal is not successful. Medical schools and their universities typically have oversight channels such as a general counsel office, risk management office, outside retained counsel, or ombuds office, having authority to grant special relief under special circumstances. Oversight officials can consider the medical school's broader interests and the special interests and circumstances of the dismissed student. Approaching those oversight officials with an effective presentation can depend on substantial skill, discernment, diplomacy, and experience. Medical school dismissal attorney Joseph D. Lento has the national reputation and network to advocate effectively with oversight officials. Attorney Lento has, on many occasions, successfully negotiated alternative special relief for dismissed college, university, graduate school, and professional school students. Retain attorney Lento if you have already suffered medical school dismissal and exhausted all administrative procedures without relief. Go the extra mile to be sure that you've given your medical reinstatement every chance.

Filing a Medical School Dismissal Lawsuit

Medical school dismissal appeals within the school and special negotiation with medical school oversight officials are not the only options for reinstatement after medical school dismissal. Litigation in the courts outside of the medical school can be another option leading to medical school reinstatement. Courts have held medical schools accountable to their statutory, regulatory, contractual, and common law duties. If all formal and informal channels within the school have failed to produce any relief from medical school dismissal, then litigation in the courts for an order and injunction requiring the medical school to reinstate the student may be an option. Retain medical school dismissal attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's student defense team to help you evaluate your litigation option. Attorney Lento has helped students nationwide gain school reinstatement and other relief through the courts when the school fails and refuses to do so.

Litigation as a Strategy

Litigation is not a panacea, perfect solution, or even preferred solution in many cases where a medical student faces disciplinary charges risking potential dismissal. Litigation is instead generally better treated as a last resort. Threatening medical school disciplinary officials with litigation before those officials have decided your charges and imposed any sanctions can be grossly counter-productive. Litigation threats can close doors to fruitful negotiation, solidify the school's adversarial position, and offend or intimidate investigators, coordinators, decision-makers, mentors, witnesses, and other key actors and potential allies within the medical school. Aggressively threatening litigation early in a disciplinary proceeding before its final resolution is not usually the right strategy when so many other avenues and means for relief may still exist. Litigation is not the preferred early strategy not only because it ends administrative relationships and closes off lines of communication. Litigation is also ordinarily slow, time-consuming, and distracting. Don't make the mistake of retaining a local criminal defense attorney who promptly threatens litigation in the zealously aggressive manner typical of criminal defense work. Instead, retain skilled and experienced medical school dismissal attorney Joseph D. Lento. When retained early in the disciplinary proceeding, attorney Lento is often able to achieve swift administrative relief, even within days of the initial charges, simply by timely, diplomatic, informed, creative, solution-oriented, and skillful communication and negotiation. In contrast, litigation may take weeks, months, or even years of laborious effort to produce the desired result. Litigation is usually best pursued as a last-resort strategy.

Litigation Procedures for Medical School Reinstatement

Court procedures play a critical role in the timing and nature of the available court relief. If you and your retained medical school dismissal attorney decide to pursue court litigation, that litigation will commence with the filing of a civil court complaint against the medical school. Court rules ordinarily give the medical school several weeks to answer the complaint unless the student successfully invokes emergency procedures. See, for example, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for litigation in the United States district courts. After the medical school's answer, the court typically permits the parties to engage in a period of discovery involving the investigation and exchange of information by interrogatories, document requests, and depositions. Discovery may last several months. The court also typically holds scheduling conferences, settlement conferences, and pretrial conferences during the litigation's course spread out across the first six to nine months or year. Both sides may also file court motions, the medical school requesting that the court dismiss the complaint and the medical student requesting that the court hold the school accountable for interim or permanent relief. Cases not decided by motion proceed to hearing or trial. The judge may hear some cases and claims, while a jury may hear other cases and claims, depending on the claims and preferences of the parties. Trials of complex civil cases may last a few days or weeks. Civil cases end with judgments determining whether the court will order relief for the student or not. Parties may appeal the decision; those appeals typically lasting several months or more. Medical school dismissal attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's student defense team have the litigation skills and substantial litigation experience necessary for a winning court action in appropriate cases.

Statutory Claims for Medical School Reinstatement

Legal claims must support the court action. A dismissed student cannot simply assert that the dismissal was unjust, unwarranted, and unfair. The student's complaint must state legal claims of one kind or another. An effective complaint may state a half dozen or dozen different claims. Statutory claims are a common type of claim for medical school dismissal litigation. A statutory claim relies on codified law enacted by Congress or a state legislature. Statutory claims can be the strongest claims because they rely on codified law, often having substantial supportive case law. Courts are empowered and generally willing to fully enforce well-known federal and state statutes that are on the literal books. Depending on the individual case facts and circumstances, a student suffering medical school dismissal may have one or more of the following statutory claims:

  • Violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibiting race, color, or national origin discrimination in education, such as when the medical school has disciplined the student differently from other students of other races, with a racially discriminatory animus or in a racially discriminatory pattern
  • Violation of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibiting sex discrimination, sexual assault, stalking, domestic or dating violence, sexual harassment in education, and retaliation for participating in a sex discrimination proceeding, such as when the school disciplines the student for sexual misconduct the student did not commit, out of the sexual bias of the decision-makers
  • Violation of the Age Discrimination Act of 1975 prohibiting age discrimination in education, such as when medical school officials use the student's age as a factor in the decision to discipline
  • Violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibiting disability discrimination in education, such as when medical school officials fail or refuse to reasonably accommodate the student's protected mental or physical disability, leading to the student's academic or other discipline
  • Violation of 42 USC Section 1983 creates a private right of action for government actions that transgress 14th Amendment due process, equal protection, free speech, freedom of religion, and other rights, such as when medical school officials fail to give fair notice to the student of disciplinary charges, fail to afford the student a fair hearing on disciplinary charges, or use the student's race, sex, political views, or religious commitments as a factor in the student's discipline
  • Violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act protecting the confidentiality of school records, such as when medical school officials disclose the student's academic performance or disciplinary charges to persons who do not need to know that information

Regulatory Claims for Medical School Reinstatement

Federal and state regulations can create or support related court claims that a student could make to reverse medical school dismissal and gain reinstatement and other relief. Legislative bodies enact statutes, providing the framework for much court litigation over school disciplinary actions. But legislative statutes often grant authority to the administrative branch to promulgate supporting regulations. Regulations generally provide greater detail than statutes, filling out the statutory framework. The regulations can be just as important as the statutes for showing a court that a student needs relief from medical school dismissal. Courts have the authority to enforce federal and state administrative regulations. Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, your court litigation to gain reinstatement after medical school dismissal may state claims under one or more of these regulations:

  • Federal regulation 34 CFR Section 668.34 on stating satisfactory academic progress standards and procedures, such as when medical school officials dismiss a student for academic deficiencies without properly applying their satisfactory academic progress standards or considering special circumstances that should have relieved the student from the strict application of those standards
  • Federal Americans with Disabilities Act Title II regulations detail reasonable accommodations a school may need to make for student disabilities, such as when the medical school refuses to provide modified schedules, extended exam time, and assistive devices and equipment for the student with a sight, hearing, or psychiatric disability, leading to the student's academic deficiency and dismissal
  • Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title VI regulations, like the Department of Justice regulation 28 CFR Section 50.3, provide enforcement guides for race, color, and national origin discrimination, such as when a medical school refuses to examine or correct a racially discriminatory pattern of discipline in light of evidence of a racially discriminatory animus against the disciplined student
  • Federal Title IX regulations require schools to provide minimum due process to students facing sexual misconduct allegations, such as when the medical school fails or refuses to permit the accused student to cross-examine adverse witnesses or in finding that the student committed the charged sexual misconduct considers statements from witnesses who were not available for cross-examination at the hearing

Contractual Claims for Medical School Reinstatement

A student suffering medical school dismissal often has contract law claims to support court litigation for medical school reinstatement. Courts regularly entertain and enforce breach-of-contract claims between private parties. A student entering medical school enters a tuition agreement with the school. The medical school typically promises in that tuition agreement to provide instruction and support services, while providing the student with due process with respect to the student's contract rights. A medical school that summarily dismisses a student without reasonable cause and without giving the student notice of the grounds and a fair opportunity to respond may well have breached the tuition agreement. The court would look to the school's assurances, policies, and procedures to determine the school's contract obligations and whether the school breached those obligations on the evidence the student's attorney presents. Depending on the case's facts and circumstances, breach of contract can be a strong claim for a student to overcome medical school dismissal and gain reinstatement.

Common Law Claims for Medical School Reinstatement

A student suffering medical school dismissal may also have common law claims to support court litigation for medical school reinstatement, in addition to statutory and regulatory claims. The common law is the body of legal principles arising out of and construed from court decisions. A common law claim does not depend on legislative or administrative action. A common law claim looks to case law generally from federal and state appellate courts, not codified law. Courts have the authority and disposition to enforce common law claims to the same extent that they enforce statutory and regulatory claims. A student may find support for reversing medical school dismissal from one or more of these common law theories:

  • Defamation in either its slander (oral) or libel (written) form, providing civil liability and injunctions against knowingly false statements diminishing the reputation of another related to no legitimate purpose, such as when a medical school instructor, supervisor, or official spreads gossip or rumors affecting the student's reputation and discipline
  • Invasion of privacy, providing civil liability for intrusions on the seclusion of persona, public disclosure of private facts, or false light harms, such as when medical school officials examine the student's confidential electronic communications, social media posts, journals, financial records, or medical records outside the permissible bounds of a disciplinary investigation
  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress, providing civil liability for harm from outrageous acts beyond all bounds of decency in civil society, such as when medical school officials take abusive actions that shock the conscience and seriously emotionally distress the accused student

Attorney Representation in Medical School Dismissal Litigation

Court litigation over medical school dismissal requires attorney representation. An unrepresented student would not have the knowledge, skill, and resources to conduct medical school dismissal litigation. Indeed, effective medical school dismissal litigation requires a medical school dismissal attorney with skills and experience in that type of litigation. Local criminal defense attorneys, local general practitioners, and even general civil litigators do not generally have the knowledge, skill, and experience for this type of specialized litigation. Medical school dismissal litigation often occurs in the federal courts rather than the state courts, where most local attorneys practice. Medical school dismissal litigation routinely involves complex and technical federal and state school law, federal constitutional law, federal statutory law, and federal regulations with which few attorneys, only those specializing in this narrow field, are sufficiently familiar. If you must litigate against your medical school for reinstatement and other relief, retain medical school dismissal attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm's student defense team for the skills, experience, and winning approach you need.

Medical School Disciplinary Record

Medical school disciplinary records can be just as important as the outcome of the disciplinary proceeding. Don't assume that because you won the battle, you won the war. The student who wins a disciplinary proceeding without suffering medical school dismissal can still suffer significant reputational, educational, and career harm if the disciplinary proceeding leaves a stain of wrongdoing on the student's disciplinary record. The disciplinary record may, for instance, show that although the medical school dismissed the charge, serious allegations of misconduct remained unresolved or undetermined. The student may have to later explain those allegations and prove them to be false before a professional licensing body. A tarnished disciplinary record, even one that shows no actual suspension, dismissal, or other sanction as discipline, can also discourage residency sites and employers from dealing with the graduate. Pay as much attention to how your disciplinary matter resolves as to whether it resolves and with what sanctions.

Medical School Authority over Disciplinary Records

Medical schools maintain disciplinary records as a matter of required recordkeeping, as a matter of regular business practice and ordinary course. Disciplinary records are generally separate from the student's academic record and maintained in an office of student conduct. See, for instance, the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine's policy on confidentiality of records. Yet discipline such as loss of credit and suspension or dismissal will almost surely show up on the student's academic transcript. Disciplinary records, though, are not simply a history of who alleged what misconduct with what result. Medical schools typically retain the authority to determine what discipline appears on a student's official school disciplinary record. Boston University School of Medicine's disciplinary code is an example stating, “A sanction of expulsion or suspension and any sanction resulting from academic misconduct, other than an interim sanction, will be entered on the student's permanent record unless this provision is waived by the ADSA with the approval of the Dean.” Your medical school may write a better or worse disciplinary record, depending on your circumstances and the terms your medical school dismissal attorney negotiates.

Addressing Disciplinary Records in Resolution

The key to a successful disciplinary outcome is often in the terms your medical school dismissal attorney negotiates for what your disciplinary record will reflect. You and your medical school dismissal attorney should address your disciplinary record with the school when resolving your disciplinary charges, no matter how those charges resolve. Even if those charges resolve with a prompt dismissal, do not simply walk away happy. With your medical school dismissal attorney's help, examine the disciplinary file closely and record your school intends to create and maintain. Do not leave a record that indicates unaddressed and undetermined allegations of serious wrongs. In the best case, your final disciplinary record should reflect that the medical school resolved all allegations without finding merit in any of them. Negotiating with the medical school over the disciplinary record is a sensitive task. Medical schools have the obligation and authority to maintain accurate records in the form and with the content school officials believe to be appropriate. You may have little leverage to insist on a better disciplinary record when the record is already arguably accurate. Retain medical school dismissal attorney Joseph D. Lento for the diplomatic skills and experience you need for a clean disciplinary record. Don't leave a problem for yourself with which you will have to deal in the future when making full, complete, and accurate disclosures of prior discipline to licensing boards, employers, and others who hold keys to your future success.

Disciplinary Records After Dismissal

The disciplinary record can also be important after dismissal. When a medical school dismisses a student, and the student fails to gain reinstatement, the disciplinary record that the dismissal leaves can be important to the student's other educational and vocational options. A bad disciplinary record can close doors to alternative pursuits. A better disciplinary record can leave those same doors open. Medical school dismissal attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped dismissed students negotiate terms with the dismissal school, giving the student a better record on which to proceed at another school in the same field of study or in another educational program or career field. You may be able to enroll in another medical school after dismissal if your disciplinary record warrants that second chance. Or you may be able to enroll in another graduate healthcare program or graduate program in an entirely different field, again depending on your disciplinary record. Your disciplinary record matters, even after medical school dismissal.

Retain the Best Available Representation

To the incredibly accomplished and hardworking medical student, the prospect of medical school dismissal must loom like an academic catastrophe. That immobilizing fear is a big part of the medical school dismissal problem. The last thing a student should do when facing medical school dismissal is freeze, ignore it, or hide from it. Instead, be as proactive as possible. Get the premier professional representation you need to avoid or reverse medical school dismissal. Retain medical school dismissal attorney Joseph Lento to advise you about your best options and to advocate and negotiate with the medical school on your behalf. Attorney Lento's expert representation has helped hundreds of medical students nationwide avoid, reverse, or overcome school dismissal. Retain the expert team at the Lento Law Firm today by calling 888.535.3686 or going online. Don't let medical school dismissal ruin your educational and career ambitions. Premier help can be on the way with one call. Recognize and value the investment you've made in your medical education and the return that investment should afford you. Retain the best available medical school dismissal attorney.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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