Negotiating Medical School Withdrawal

Dismissal from medical school can cripple a student's plans to enter the medical profession as a licensed professional. Many medical students only get one fair chance to make the grade, earn the degree, graduate, and enter the profession. Depending on the dismissal grounds, dismissal from medical school tells other schools that the dismissed student isn't likely to persevere and graduate. Dismissed students can find it difficult or impossible to enter another medical school after dismissal from their first school. And if they do get a second chance, it's not likely to be at a school that they would like to attend. For medical students who truly want to earn the degree and enter the profession with all its rewards, dismissal is something to be avoided at all costs, even at the cost of withdrawal. Withdrawal can be a far better option than dismissal if the at-risk student can convince the school to permit withdrawal. And that's a very big IF. If you face imminent medical school dismissal, retain national academic administrative attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm to help you negotiate withdrawal instead, preserving your investment in your medical education and your dream of entering the medical profession.

Progression Issues Threatening Dismissal

If you face the prospect of dismissal from your medical school, don't think that graduation was supposed to be a guarantee. Medical school dismissal is a real and constant threat for medical students facing rigorous step exams and continually challenging studies. Medical schools require students to make satisfactory academic progress. Schools must do so to satisfy federal student loan regulations, to ensure the integrity of their academic programs, and to be fair to students who are not likely to graduate with the knowledge and skills necessary to enter the medical profession. Satisfactory academic progress generally requires students to maintain a minimum grade-point average, complete a certain percentage of credits attempted, and graduate within a certain number of years. See, for example, the satisfactory academic progress policy at the Stanford University School of Medicine. The causes for students not making satisfactory academic progress are many. Some causes are within the student's control, like the discipline with which the student approaches studies, but many other causes are not, like illness, injury, the death of a family member, divorce, and other similar tragedies. Student Progress Committees at the school typically play a role in determining whether the student is meeting the school's academic requirements or deserves relief for not doing so. But a Student Progress Committee may certainly recommend dismissal. Grounds on which a student could suffer academic progress dismissal include:

  • Failing to prepare for courses, labs, and clinical rounds, resulting in substandard performance
  • Failing to attend classes, labs, and clinical rounds, resulting in unfinished requirements
  • Failing to register or appear for, complete, and pass block term or step exams
  • Too many withdrawals and incompletes in attempted courses to meet school requirements
  • Not registering for and attempting the minimum number of required credits in consecutive terms
  • Taking several terms off until graduation within the maximum number of years is unlikely or impossible

Professionalism Issues

Medical schools dismiss students not just for failing to make satisfactory academic progress but also on professionalism grounds. Medical students typically do not have frequent issues with the sorts of behaviors that can get an undergraduate kicked out of school, things like sexual assault, sexual harassment, vandalism, theft, or misuse of school identification or computers. But medical students certainly face professionalism issues. Medical schools are preparing students to enter a profession with extraordinarily high conduct standards. Students must learn how to relate to supervisors and colleagues, how to relate and attend to patients, and how to relate to patients' family members and representatives. See, for example, the code of professional conduct at Duke University School of Medicine. When medical students do not meet those very high standards, school dismissal can result. Professionalism grounds on which medical students suffer dismissal include:

  • Advising or providing unnecessary or inappropriate medical testing or treatment
  • Not getting patient consent for medical care provided, misrepresenting the treatment to obtain uninformed consent, or exceeding the scope of consent without a qualifying emergency
  • Attempting to provide medical care or otherwise attend to medical duties while impaired by alcohol or drugs, or otherwise temporarily unfit
  • Failing or refusing to treat a medical patient without first stabilizing the patient or refusing to treat a patient on inappropriate grounds
  • Breaches of patient confidentiality and privacy rights, disclosing medical information without authorization
  • Not timely and accurately reporting suspected child abuse or neglect as abuse reporting laws require
  • Inappropriate treatment of, instructions to, or relationships with nurses, attendants, aides, or other subordinate care providers
  • Attempting to coerce undue advantage from patients using the offer or withholding of medical care
  • Violent acts, notorious crimes, or otherwise bringing the medical profession into ill repute

Why Withdrawal Can Be Better Than Dismissal

Imagine being a medical school admissions officer or on an admissions committee, considering the submissions of two applicants, whether by readmission, transfer, or new admission, for a highly competitive seat in the medical school. The first applicant suffered dismissal from the medical school or a prior medical school because of unsatisfactory academic progress and professional misconduct. The second applicant withdrew from the medical school or a prior medical school after demonstrating to school officials that unfortunate and unforeseen circumstances were interfering with the student's ability to continue in the program. Everything else about the two applications is the same, including admissions test scores, undergraduate grade-point averages, honors, and awards. Which applicant is more likely to gain transfer or new admission? Of course, the student who withdrew. And if the official or committee must consider whether to accept the prior school's credits on transfer or to require the applicant to start over in a new admission, withdrawal is again far more likely than dismissal to result in the student gaining the prior credits rather than having to start over. If your medical school is about to dismiss you or has already dismissed you, retain national academic administrative attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm to help you negotiate withdrawal instead. Do everything you can to preserve your investment in your medical education and dream of practicing medicine.

What Dismissal Demonstrates to Admissions Committees

There are good reasons why medical schools hesitate to admit students whom that medical school or another medical school has already dismissed. Readmission to the dismissal school or admission to another school may not, in every case, be impossible. Yet dismissal clearly demonstrates to the dismissal school or the new school that whatever the reason and circumstance, the student could not continue in and complete the program within minimum medical school standards. The proof is in the failed attempt, throwing the student back on explanations and excuses admissions officials may well not accept. But dismissal demonstrates something further. Dismissal also shows that the student didn't recognize in advance and then proactively address the dismissal threat. Medical schools expect students to face challenges. Medical schools may offer abundant resources, including study aids, mentors, tutors, counselors, advisors, terms off, lighter loads, disability accommodations, and exam accommodations, all to save the student's medical education. Schools may also permit a student who just cannot presently make the grade the opportunity to withdraw, precisely to preserve the possibility of transfer, restart, or new admission. The student who doesn't pursue those better options and instead suffers dismissal suggests to the next medical school that the student didn't act professionally. If you face dismissal or have already suffered dismissal, retain national academic administrative attorney Joseph D. Lento to help you negotiate an alternative withdrawal. Your situation will be much better for it.

What Withdrawal Demonstrates to Admissions Committees

There are other good reasons why medical school withdrawal is often a far better option than dismissal. In contrast to dismissal, withdrawal can demonstrate to the new medical school's admissions officials that the applicant acted responsibly when facing challenges that interfered with the applicant's ability to continue. Educators recognize that serious challenges, even occasional failures, can be necessary and appropriate to a student's learning and development in a difficult medical program. The question isn't so much the failure as how the student responds to the failure. Many medical school students have to retake courses, labs, and exams after not meeting standards on the first attempt. Falling behind and even failing isn't ordinarily the end of studies. Medical schools expect students to take corrective action, get needed resources, and persevere to once again meet the school's standards. And when the student simply cannot correct the student's course because of circumstances beyond the student's control, medical schools expect students to recognize their circumstances and request withdrawal. Withdrawal doesn't mean ultimate failure. To admissions officials at the new school, withdrawal can mean responsible action, showing that the student deserves another chance.

Other Advantages to Withdrawal Over Dismissal

Withdrawal can offer other advantages beyond a transfer of credits to a new medical school or a second medical school admission. Some medical students learn that they don't wish to earn a medical degree and enter the medical profession as a practicing physician. They may learn that their interests and skills fit other professions better than the medical profession. They may wish to pursue other graduate education, whether in medical administration, nursing, business, finance, law, engineering, pharmacology, or other fields. That pursuit of other graduate education toward another field means applying to competitive graduate programs. So once again, for all of the above reasons, withdrawal from a medical program while still in good standing can appear much better than dismissal to an admissions committee in another graduate program. Keep your doors open. You may have had, or may in the future have, a change of heart about your medical profession. Don't leave your current medical program behind with a dismissal that might close other doors. Retain national academic administrative attorney Joseph D. Lento to help you negotiate withdrawal rather than suffer dismissal.

Medical School Withdrawal Policies

Withdrawal is very likely to be an option at your medical school if you can demonstrate the required grounds for withdrawal. Medical schools maintain policies for students who wish to withdraw. The University of Virginia School of Medicine's withdrawal policy is an example. While withdrawal policies vary somewhat from school to school, many medical schools like the University of Virginia School of Medicine offer withdrawal on several different grounds, each with its own requirements. The University of Virginia's medical school policy offers withdrawal on any of these grounds:

  • Academic grounds when the student shows an academic standards committee that circumstances have interfered with the student's ability to maintain minimum academic standards
  • Professionalism grounds when the student shows that circumstances have interfered with the student's ability to meet professional standards
  • Voluntary medical grounds when the student presents documentation to the associate dean for admissions and student affairs from a physician or other qualified professional that the student is suffering a medical condition preventing the student from meeting standards
  • Involuntary medical grounds when the associate dean for admissions and student affairs determines in consultation with the senior associate dean for education and after an individualized assessment that the student cannot continue because of medical reasons
  • Voluntary withdrawal for non-medical reasons demonstrated to the associate dean for admissions and student affairs within that dean's discretion

Fighting Dismissal With Withdrawal

You can see from the University of Virginia School of Medicine's example withdrawal policy above that withdrawal isn't a right. Withdrawal is more like a privilege. If your medical school is already on a march toward your dismissal, you can't necessarily depend on withdrawal to stave off dismissal. In fact, the contrary would ordinarily be the case: if dismissal is imminent, withdrawal wouldn't generally be available. Medical schools have standards to apply. They don't play games or participate in misrepresentations. When school policies direct a student's dismissal, dismissal is usually what happens. Fighting dismissal effectively with withdrawal generally takes more than simply submitting a voluntary withdrawal request. To gain withdrawal while still in good standing, and to gain withdrawal on the grounds that give you the best chance at readmission or admission to a new school, you likely need to make a good showing of justifying circumstances. Don't attempt to navigate these turbulent waters on your own. Instead, retain national academic administrative attorney advisor Joseph D. Lento to help you establish appropriate grounds for a deserving withdrawal.

Documenting Withdrawal Grounds

Other medical schools have simpler withdrawal procedures that may not require any grounds or documentation. The University of Massachusetts Medical School's withdrawal policy is an example. At the University of Massachusetts, a medical school student may withdraw voluntarily at any time. Unlike the University of Virginia policy, the University of Massachusetts policy does not list permissible withdrawal grounds and does not say that the student must give a reason or supply any documentation. Yet the policy warns that voluntary withdrawal does not guarantee readmission. The withdrawn student must instead once again go before the school's admissions committee. That requirement suggests that the grounds for withdrawal and documenting those grounds could be quite important to readmission. Don't let a simple voluntary withdrawal policy lull you into unwise action. Retain national academic administrative attorney advisor Joseph D. Lento to help you establish and document withdrawal grounds and terms that give you the best chance to gain readmission or admission to a new school. Act proactively and responsibly to preserve your investment and future.

Medical School Readmission Policies

Just as medical schools typically have policies permitting students to withdraw, medical schools also typically maintain policies permitting a student who has withdrawn to gain readmission to the same school. The University of Virginia School of Medicine once again has such a readmission policy. But so do many other medical schools. The University of California San Francisco School of Medicine is another example of a school having a readmission policy. Readmission policies, though, typically deny readmission to dismissed students and instead offer readmission only to students who have withdrawn. For example, the UCSF readmission policy expressly states, “Only those who voluntarily withdraw from the UCSF School of Medicine while on good academic standing are eligible to apply for readmission.” Readmission is not a given for the medical student who has withdrawn. Instead, policies tend to require the student to meet the same standards that a student would have to meet when first applying to the school. The student would also have to show sound reasons for withdrawal, convincing a special committee on readmission. You can see again why negotiating withdrawal on appropriately favorable terms can be critical to readmission at your own school or admission to another school. Retain national academic administrative attorney advisor Joseph D. Lento to ensure that your withdrawal places you in the best light when you apply for readmission or seek new admission to another school.

An Attorney Advisor's Role in Withdrawal

A skilled and experienced academic administrative attorney advisor can make all the difference to your effective withdrawal from medical school, preserving your opportunity for readmission or transfer or admission to a new school. As smart and capable as they are, medical school students don't generally have legal administrative experience. Nor do they necessarily have skill and experience negotiating with academic administrators. Representing oneself in a challenging and sensitive negotiation is also hard, no matter one's experience and skill. Skilled and experienced representation brings to the table independent strategic evaluation and refined negotiating skills. National academic administrative attorney advisor Joseph Lento knows academic administrative procedures. Attorney Lento knows how to defend and refute unsatisfactory academic progress or professional misconduct charges to gain the upper hand toward withdrawal rather than dismissal. Attorney Lento also knows how to structure and document withdrawal for the best chance at readmission or transfer, or admission to a new school. A skilled and experienced academic administrative attorney can investigate, communicate, negotiate, advise, and document an effective withdrawal, especially for a medical student who already faces disabling challenges.

Don't Retain an Unqualified Attorney Advisor

If you face medical school dismissal because of unsatisfactory academic progress, professional misconduct charges, or other circumstances, and you would prefer instead to withdraw to preserve your future, you need the help of someone other than a local criminal defense attorney lacking academic administrative experience. Local criminal defense attorneys practice in criminal court under different laws, rules, procedures, and customs. A medical school dismissal proceeding and withdrawal request do not involve court or even court-like proceedings. They are instead academic administrative matters handled by professors, deans, student-affairs officials, and other medical school administrators and staff members. Those officials do not respond to the legal arguments and demands that a local criminal defense attorney typically makes in criminal court. Academic administrators don't take kindly to the kinds of lawyer tactics that are appropriate in criminal court. If you face medical school dismissal and hope instead to negotiate a favorable withdrawal, you need qualified help, not just any help.

Retain a National Academic Administrative Attorney Advisor

Academic administrators respect other professionals who know academic norms, customs, interests, goals, objectives, and options. National academic administrative attorney advisor Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm has helped hundreds of college and university students nationwide, including medical school students, avoid dismissal. Attorney Lento knows how to treat academic administrators with the respect they expect to open doors to successful negotiation. Attorney Lento knows not only how to talk their language but also how to show academic administrators how a medical school student's withdrawal can be in the school's better interest than dismissal. Attorney Lento also has the national reputation that academic administrators respect. Attorney Lento is available to help you negotiate medical school withdrawal whether you face dismissal or have already suffered dismissal. Call 888.535.3686 or go online now.

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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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