Established in 1982 in Macon, Georgia, the Mercer University School of Medicine (MUSM) trains future physicians to serve the rural and medically underserved Georgia residents. MUSM has multiple campuses and provides unique, hands-on medical training that allows students to participate in their education to bolster their future practice. While not as large as some medical schools, MUSM's purpose is to train local students who intend to stay in the state.
Since a significant portion of student work involves research and community engagement, integrity and academic advancement are core components of MUSM's standards. However, some students face wrongful accusations of behavioral misconduct or have trouble keeping up with peers. While the reasons differ, the result is that students could face graduation delays or permanent dismissal from medical school. When baseless allegations threaten a student's future as a doctor, an attorney-advisor helps them fight for a fair and reasonable outcome without jeopardizing their future career.
MUSM's Student Code of Honor and Professional Conduct highlights its commitment to maintaining a level playing field for all students. Medical students must abide by the Medical Student Honor System – a separate segment of the MUSM handbook that details the university's expectations regarding behavior and conduct. All graduate and medical students attending classes at MUSM must abide by the following statement:
“I pledge to neither give nor receive aid during tests or for any individual assignments or papers, nor to use any information other than that allowed by the instructor. I further pledge that I will not allow to go unreported to the proper persons any violation of the Honor System and that I will give true and complete information before the Honor Committee”.
MUSM takes a firm stance against ethical and behavioral violations due to the medical field's sensitive nature. As future physicians, students must abide by these rules and establish their identities as medical professionals in a position of public trust. Maintaining good grades is also an integral part of the process. If academic progress is not up to par, students must take every opportunity to improve it or face graduation delays.
With the numerous responsibilities that students handle on and off-campus, some fall behind or make honest mistakes. Unfortunately, those mistakes often lead to a hearing, and an unsympathetic board may enforce hefty sanctions. An attorney-advisor decreases the likelihood of receiving overly-harsh penalties that delay graduation and bolsters student confidence when the time comes to face the panel.
Most people don't end up in medical school because of the high expectations and the heavy course load. Medical students may not be doctors yet, but the pressure to perform starts as soon as they enter university. Even the most diligent student can fall behind, especially if they manage other responsibilities outside of medical school.
MUSM understands that students may face obstacles that prevent them from making academic progress. The university offers remediation options if student grades lag and performs evaluations at the end of each semester. MUSM enforces the Satisfactory Academic Progress standard to monitor academic progress. If the student continues to underperform despite mentoring, assessments, and remediation, they may face permanent dismissal. Students receiving financial aid must maintain high grades and complete their programs within a maximum timeframe to continue receiving support.
Working on remediations may be burdensome to students. Whether they incur additional time or money to stay in the program, their result is a delay in graduation. Despite this setback, remediation is the only option in some cases for students wishing to pursue a career as a doctor.
Severe student misbehavior, ethical infarctions, or repeated sub-par academic performance are grounds for permanent dismissal. While it is a last-resort option after the matter receives a close review by the administration, permanent dismissal is a real possibility that has destructive consequences.
MUSM enforces four types of penalties: Class I, Class II, Class III, and discretionary. Class I sanctions are the most severe and incur either a temporary dismissal or expulsion from the program. Some of the challenges students face if they receive a permanent discharge on their record are:
Enrollment challenges. Students that have a permanent dismissal on their records are less likely to receive admission to another medical school. Since competition rates are high and acceptance chances are slim, it can take multiple tries to find an administration willing to turn a blind eye.
Graduation delays. Becoming a doctor takes over a decade and comes with hours of study and application. A permanent dismissal means starting over at a different medical school and taking more time to achieve the goal of becoming a doctor.
Financial repercussions. Even with financial aid, medical school comes with crushing student debt that takes years to pay off. Not only do students who face expulsion no longer receive funding privileges, but they may also need to pay extra to get into another program.
Fortunately, students can appeal decisions made by a panel if this jeopardizes their academic progress and future career. Students facing misconduct convictions or sanctions can appeal to the Provost within four business days of receiving the Student Honor Committee's decision.
The Provost determines the appeal's eligibility and has the authority to reduce the committee's decision or maintain it. Students who disagree with the conclusion of the Provost may appeal to the President. The President's findings are final.
Hiring an Attorney-Advisor
With the pressure on medical students to maintain behavioral and academic standards at all times, mistakes happen. Attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento understands what's at stake and helps medical students navigate the complex process of grievance processes, investigations, hearings and appeals.
If you face misconduct or professionalism charges, Attorny-advisor Lento helps you build the strongest possible defense. He can, for example, help you draft a review statement and gather critical evidence that can help exonerate the wrongly accused and can help reduce sanction severity in circumstances where a medical student made a mistake or a poor decision. Your future career as a physician doesn't have to suffer because of unfair allegations. Without professional help, it's easy for medical schools to gloss over your case and rush through the process. Attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento will ultimatley work towards ensuring a fair process and a favorable outcome.
Don't let your dream of becoming a doctor become a nightmare experience under the mercy of a committee. Call Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 for a discreet and thorough conversation about your case.