In order to become a doctor, most students have to complete a four-year undergraduate degree, go through the competitive process of getting into medical school, complete four years of medical school, then go through residency. With so much time, money, and effort invested in medical school, it can be devastating for a student to be accused of disciplinary measures in med school.
An adverse disciplinary hearing or loss of medical student appeals can potentially put an end to your career path. With so much at stake, it is important to speak with an attorney-adviser when facing a medical school misconduct investigation, disciplinary charges, or any medical school issue that can negatively impact your academic and professional career
Student Disciplinary Issues for Medical Students and Other Fundamental Concerns
Medical students can face any number of issues throughout the medical school process, from the application and interview process through graduation. Issues can range from academic problems to Title IX and sexual harassment claims to professionalism and dismissal concerns. Some of the medical student issues of concern for prospective doctors include:
- Academic Misconduct
- Title IX involving Sexual Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, and Related Concerns
- Disciplinary Charges
- Academic Issues
- Professionalism Concerns
- Medical Student Appeals
- Medical School Remediation
- Medical Student Dismissals
Medical schools across the United States at times have similarities in terms of how such concerns will be addressed and adjudicated, but there will also be fundamental differences. Understanding how your medical school's process is critical to understanding prospective steps forward and also how to best protect your rights and interests. The following link provides information about individual medical schools' policies regarding how concerns that can negatively impact students will be handled:
The consequences of an adverse academic misconduct finding can be drastic. The penalties and disciplinary measures for academic misconduct can include probation, suspension, or dismissal. An adverse academic misconduct finding can also prevent a student from attending another medical school, essentially putting an end to their medical career.
Academic misconduct or dishonesty can refer to a number of actions or inactions by students in a medical school. Some examples of academic misconduct include:
- Unauthorized collaboration,
- Deceitful educational software,
- Reusing assignments or exams,
- Failing to report violations,
- Impersonation, or
Some students see other students engaging in academic misconduct, are frustrated by others seemingly getting it away with it, make the poor decision to do so themselves. Other medical students have engaged in some form of academic misconduct from high school, through college, even on the MCAT, or in their medical school classes. This can make it more tempting to engage in cheating or plagiarism when so many others may be doing so.
Other students may be having a difficult time dealing with the stress of their first year of medical school, or be dealing with a family emergency or mental health issue. Cheating, copying, or other misconduct may be a way for them to continue through med school until their personal situation has improved.
Unfortunately, many medical students are falsely accused of academic dishonesty. Competition between students, jealousy, or even anger over personal relationships may cause another student or teacher to make false claims of academic misconduct. For example, one student who copies another student's work may then claim the other student copied them to try and take the spotlight off their own misconduct.
Challenging academic misconduct claims may depend on the evidence available and the strength of the claims against the student. In many situations, the med student accused of misconduct faces weak evidence against them. The school may try and give the student an opportunity to “admit” to the misconduct in exchange for reduced disciplinary measures. It can be tempting, even for an innocent student, to admit to misconduct rather than face more serious penalties.
Medical students generally have the option to consult with an attorney or counsel when facing disciplinary accusations. Unfortunately, many students avoid calling a lawyer because they think it will make them look guilty. However, contacting an academic misconduct attorney and adviser is a way to protect your rights and make sure you are not taken advantage of by the unequal process of a med school disciplinary proceeding.
Academic Misconduct Hearings
Academic misconduct can result in serious consequences for a medical student, especially when the student has not availed themselves of their right to counsel or an attorney-adviser. After an initial report of misconduct or other medical student issues, the school may conduct a disciplinary proceeding through an administrative hearing or panel hearing. The type of hearing may depend on factors, including the nature of the misconduct, penalties, and prior history of the student.
An administrative hearing generally involves a meeting between a school official and the med student. The school official may review the allegations, the evidence, and meet with others involved in the alleged misconduct. The student will then be given an opportunity to respond. The school official may then make a determination based on the evidence of whether the student should be subject to discipline.
A panel hearing is generally a more structured administrative process. A panel hearing may consist of a few med school faculty, staff, deans, or other administrators. The panel will hear the evidence, hear from any witnesses, and allow the student to respond. The panel would then make a decision based on the evidence whether the student's actions constitute a violation of the school's policy and what sanctions to apply.
Disciplinary Violations for Medical Students
The hope would be that most medical students, even if having matriculated directly from college, would be mature enough to avoid potential improprieties that can result in disciplinary charges under the medical school's code of conduct. This is not always the case, however.
Disciplinary concerns are different than concerns involving professionalism for example, but due in part to the nature of youth, the social dynamics of a medical school campus, and the best-laid plans going awry, medical students can at times find themselves subject to being charged under the school's code.
Disciplinary charges can vary in nature, but charges can include, for example:
- Social Media Violations
- Internet Threats
- Computer Crimes/Cyber Crimes
- Cyber Stalking
- Drugs on Campus
- Destruction of Property
Medical students can also, unfortunately, find themselves subject to Title IX allegations and charges involving sexual harassment and sexual misconduct. Although there can be interplay between a medical school's code of conduct and its Title IX policies, Title IX will control how such allegations and charges are addressed and adjudicated. Title IX charges can include, for example: