Former medical student Mehdijaffer Mulla's chances of becoming a physician vanished into thin air after he was repeatedly accused of inappropriate interactions with female peers, which led to his multiple suspensions—and ultimate dismissal—from the University of Minnesota (UMN) Medical School.
If you're attending medical school and have been accused of misconduct or professionalism concerns, you'll soon find yourself caught up in a disciplinary process that can quickly leave you feeling confused and out of control. Where sexual misconduct is alleged, the process may be handled by the school's Title IX office. Where academic integrity or professionalism concerns are alleged, for example, your medical school may have a Committee on Academic and Professional Standards that will investigate the claims and make recommendations regarding dismissal, leaves of absence, or any other appropriate actions. Whether the charges are ultimately proven true or false, just being involved in the disciplinary process can hurt you in the short and long term.
How the Lento Law Firm Can Help
If you are facing accusations of wrongdoing or professionalism violations in medical school, it's essential that you retain the services of an experienced medical student defense attorney as soon as the school notifies you of the allegations. Your chance of a favorable outcome will be significantly greater if you don't try to face it alone. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm can help you as your medical student defense advisor during investigations, hearings, and appeals, as they have helped hundreds of medical students nationwide and abroad protect their dreams of becoming doctors.
Sexual Misconduct and Title IX Law
Title IX is a federal civil rights law that guarantees equal access to higher education, regardless of gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
Under Title IX, sexual misconduct constitutes interference with victims' equal access to higher education. Misconduct includes sexual harassment, rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion.
The penalty for a school that violates Title IX mandates is the loss of federal funding. This puts the college, university, or medical school under extreme pressure to investigate and adjudicate allegations of sexual misconduct against the accused student, known as the "respondent".
Often such investigations are one-sided, however, if the respondent is not being advised by an experienced Title IX attorney. The medical school will look out for its own best interests first, which puts the accused at a disadvantage and makes it difficult, but not impossible, to construct a solid defense. Due to the dynamics of Title IX, the complainant's interests are often aligned with the school's, and this is why a respondent needs an experienced attorney-advisor in their corner as soon as they learn of the allegations.
Title IX Advisor for Medical Students
The Disciplinary Process
In the UMN case, Mr. Mulla exhausted all avenues available to him. Once his case was opened by the University, he felt it was taking too long for them to schedule a hearing so he could tell his side of the story. In 2020, he sued the University, saying it had denied him due process. UMN's vice dean and dean ruled to dismiss his case. A U.S. District Court judge approved UMN's request. On January 11, 2022, a three-judge Court of Appeals panel upheld the District Court's decision, leaving Mr. Mulla completely out of options.
The Devastating Impact of Misconduct Allegations on a Student's Future
Suspension during or after the disciplinary process becomes a permanent part of a student's academic record. In the short term, this interrupts the student's ability to attend classes and keep up with coursework. Dismissal jeopardizes the student's future plans even more. The record will be seen by every school, residency program, or employer the student ever applies to, and dismissal from any medical student will effectively end a student's goal of ever becoming a doctor.
It's tough enough to get into medical school. As of January 2022, acceptance rates range from one percent to eight-and-a-half percent, and admissions staff look at much more than MCAT scores and GPAs.
Medical schools, and other professional programs such as law schools and graduate business schools, almost always ask applicants if they had ever been found responsible or sanctioned for a student disciplinary issue at any point during their academic career. Disclosure of such issues, which is required, will close doors to such opportunities.
The Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects students' privacy to some extent when it comes to their academic records. However, a school with a legitimate educational reason for having full access to a student's record—such as the school a student has applied to, or the school a student has applied for a transfer to—has a right to know about disciplinary actions, and these must be included in applications and disclosure forms.
Although the student's consent will be required for records to be disclosed, an applicant to medical school, for example, will be expected to answer medical school application questions honestly, and upon initial disclosure, the applicant will be expected to authorize the release of their disciplinary records. If a medical student applicant were to decline to do so, the applicant's candidacy will effectively end. Additionally, a school does not require a student's consent to release records involving a finding of sexual violence under Title IX.
Any time a medical student is suspended or expelled from school, it must be reported to the Association of American Medical Colleges and recorded in the student's official academic record and in the evaluation connected to their residency application. Even if a medical student can overcome such major obstacles and has the opportunity to seek residency, this makes matching into a residency program almost impossible.
Future Employment as a Physician
Considering the serious and permanent impact of disciplinary actions on a medical student's academic record and their consequent ability to complete their education or get a residency, there's a high probability a future of practicing medicine will no longer be possible.
As difficult as it may be to consider the above potential harsh realities, these are not reasons to throw in the towel, but rather, to make certain you take the necessary steps to protect your dream of becoming a doctor. Allegations are allegations, and simply being accused does not mean that you did something wrong. Even in instances where a mistake or poor decision may have been made, and whether your case involves academic misconduct, professionalism issues, or Title IX allegations, a fair and reasonable outcome can be achieved when you have an experienced attorney-advisor in your corner to work towards a fair process and the best possible outcome.
Do Not Let Mistakes Define Your Life
Medical students are expected to learn on their journey to becoming doctors, and sometimes learning means making a mistake. Mistakes do not necessarily have to mean the end of a medical student's dreams. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have helped hundreds of medical students overcome the various challenges that can arise during medical school and also during a doctor's residency. Whether such concerns involve alleged academic misconduct, professionalism violations, or Title IX charges, Attorney Lento and his expert team have helped countless other medical students like you. Now is not the time to throw in the towel. Now is the time to take appropriate action.
Contact National Medical Student Defense Attorney Joseph D. Lento Today
Misconduct issues of any kind, including Title IX charges and Title IX violations, can change an accused medical student's life if not defended against properly and as early as possible during the disciplinary process, and attorney Joseph D. Lento has unparalleled experience passionately fighting for the future of his clients at universities and colleges throughout the nation and abroad. Contact National Medical Student Defense Attorney Joseph D. Lento today at 888-535-3686.