Located in Portland, OR, the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) traces its roots back to 1887 as the University of Oregon Medical Department, then as the University of Oregon Medical School, before becoming an independent institution in 1974. Today, the OHSU School of Medicine is just one of five schools in the OHSU complex, (the others being dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, and public health).
A medical student's academic record and professional reputation are key to a bright future in medicine. Likewise, when grade disputes, allegations of misconduct, and other school-related issues threaten to tarnish that pristine record, the student's career prospects may be greatly impacted. It's at times like these that having an attorney-advisor to assist with disciplinary procedures and disputes can go a long way toward safeguarding a student's future.
Code of Conduct
All OHSU students are expected to abide by the tenets of a written Code of Conduct which places high premiums on academic honesty and professional/ethical conduct. Students of the School of Medicine are also provided with a statement of Professional Conduct Expectations, which includes the following:
“Honesty is a necessary professional virtue. Students and faculty are expected to be honest in their academic and professional interactions with each other and in their dealings with peers, patients, the Oregon Health & Science University and the professional community.”
The Medical Student Progress Board (MSPB) monitors, administers and oversees all aspects of medical students' academic progress. It also investigates and makes disciplinary recommendations for allegations of academic or professional misconduct. For students facing such accusations, if the MSPB determines a violation occurred, it will recommend actions to the Dean of the School of Medicine, who in turn makes a final determination. Disciplinary actions may range from warnings and probation to suspension or dismissal.
The rigorous course schedules and high academic thresholds of medical school can be extremely challenging—to the point that even the most gifted or committed students may sometimes find themselves lagging behind or failing to meet minimum grade standards. To help students who struggle to meet the minimum thresholds, the OHSU School of Medicine will prescribe remedial actions customized to the student's needs to help them get back on track academically.
Remediation can be costly and time-consuming for the medical student—and in some cases, even unnecessary. Students can often reverse remediation requirements by disputing poor grades to the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education. That being said, in situations where the student might otherwise face dismissal, remediation may serve as a lifeline to rescue the student's career.
If a medical student at OHSU faces a recommendation of dismissal for academic shortcomings or for accusations of academic or professional misconduct, the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education will convene a special Dismissal Hearing of the Board to review the case and hear evidence before rendering a final decision. With advance notice of at least 5 days, the accused student may bring an advisor or attorney-advisor to the hearing to assist with the defense.
A final recommendation of dismissal can be devastating to a medical student's career, and it is an outcome to be avoided, if at all possible. Not only does the student face the humiliation of dismissal and a permanent notation on his/her academic record, but it can generate a litany of compounding problems for the student, including:
- Trouble re-enrolling in medical school. Once dismissed, a medical student faces an uphill battle trying to re-enroll in another school of medicine. Most medical schools have stringent acceptance standards and will not prioritize a candidate who has already been dismissed.
- Starting over academically. Provided the student gets over the first hurdle of re-enrollment, none of the student's prior medical school credits will likely carry over. They will likely repeat months or years of course work.
- Exorbitant debt. Medical school is expensive, and students frequently take out large student loans to pay for it, expecting to repay them with a physician's salary. Those loans will still need to be repaid even though dismissal now places the physician's salary in question.
Student's Right of Appeal for Final Disciplinary Decisions
The appeals process is frequently the last line of defense to save a medical student's reputation and career prospects. OHSU gives an accused student the right to formally appeal any disciplinary decision before it becomes final. Appeals must be made in writing directly to the Provost within 30 days of being notified of the determination. OHSU will only entertain appeals on the following grounds:
- Failure to follow established procedures during disciplinary proceedings that led to an unfair/inappropriate conclusion
- Introduction of new information not available during the proceedings which may have affected the outcome
- The decision violates OHSU policy or applicable laws
Hiring an Attorney-Advisor
The high academic and professional standards of medical school can become a double-edged sword for medical students. Due to ongoing public pressure to maintain an irreproachable reputation, medical schools sometimes fail to afford due process to students, all in the name of bringing swift and decisive justice. In such cases, the students themselves pay the price with a tarnished reputation and an uncertain career path forward. Hiring an experienced attorney-advisor not only helps the student (and parents) navigate the complicated discipline and dispute process, but also protects the student's due process rights while keeping the school accountable to its own policies. In many cases, this added layer of support is more than enough to exonerate the student and rescue their future career.
Joseph D. Lento has successfully helped countless medical students who are facing allegations of academic or professional misconduct, as well as other disputes, issues, and concerns unique to medical students. Your future may depend on the help you receive at this time. Get the support you need by calling the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686.