PharmD Student Discipline Issues

Pharmacy students working on their PharmD degree have already invested a great deal of time and money into their education. It's the final educational piece the student must complete before taking their licensing exams and getting experience in the field through residency work. When a PharmD student is accused of any type of misconduct—whether academic, sexual, or professional misconduct—it can be akin to fumbling the football on the 1-yard line during a championship game. Any disciplinary action taken by the school could completely derail a long academic process and prevent promising pharmacy students from achieving their goals.

If you're a PharmD student facing disciplinary actions for any reason, you're already at a disadvantage because the college or university doesn't necessarily have to abide by the principle of “innocent until proven guilty.” Having an experienced attorney-advisor in your corner could save your good name and rescue your career from almost certain disaster.

Possible Disciplinary Issues Faced by PharmD Students

Between the school's Code of Conduct, Honor Code, and other student conduct policies, many potential misconduct violations could result in disciplinary action for PharmD students. Among the more common disciplinary issues are:

  • Academic Misconduct
  • Title IX and Related Violations
  • Code of Conduct Violations
  • Professionalism Issues
  • Slow Academic Progression, Remediation, and Dismissals
  • Violations of Licensing and Exam Regulations

Academic Misconduct

Educational institutions expect all PharmD students abide by the highest standards of academic integrity. Each university will have established policies regarding academic honesty, but the School of Pharmacy may also have its own policies in addition to the university rules. Academic misconduct in pharmacy school is a serious offense, and if the school finds you in violation of its academic policies, it may suspend you, expel you, or even revoke your degree. Not only could this derail your career plans, but if you're already a licensed pharmacist and the school finds you guilty of misconduct after the fact, they can opt to revoke your degree, leading to having your professional license revoked, as well!

What are some examples of academic misconduct that could jeopardize your PharmD degree?

  • Using unauthorized notes during an examination
  • Plagiarizing (either by copying/paraphrasing someone else's work or failing to cite references in your own work)
  • Having someone take an exam in your place (or taking an exam for someone else)
  • Manipulating or fabricating data in your research
  • Manipulating or fabricating patient data
  • Submitting someone else's work as your own
  • Distributing unauthorized copies of past or current exams, quizzes, or assignments
  • Helping and abetting dishonesty
  • Falsification of documentation or forgery

Title IX and Related Offenses

All federally funded educational institutions must abide by federal Title IX rules established by the U.S. Department of Education. This includes most universities that house schools and colleges of pharmacy. Title IX provides protections for students against sex discrimination and sexual harassment at the school. Title IX offenses are generally handled through a separate office according to federal guidelines, but many schools (including pharmacy schools) also have specific rules about sexual misconduct and harassment within their own Code of Conduct.

Title IX protects against such behavior as:

  • Sexual harassment
  • Rape, sexual assault, battery, coercion
  • Dating violence
  • Stalking
  • Revenge porn
  • Bullying and gender-based bullying
  • Gender discrimination
  • Non-consensual sexual contact

Both your university and pharmacy school will investigate any allegations of sexual misconduct against you as a PharmD student. Since many schools have faced criticism for not dealing with sexual harassment claims properly, administrators are under a lot of pressure to mete out swift justice in these types of cases—often leading to unfair treatment of the accused. It is essential to reach out to an experienced Title IX attorney if accused of sexual misconduct.

Code of Conduct Violations

Every college and university has its own established Code of Conduct, and individual colleges and schools within the university may also have their own Codes of Conduct. As a PharmD student, you will be responsible for abiding by the specific Code of Conduct for your pharmacy school/department and the overall Code of Conduct for the university.

Most student Codes of Conduct pertain to all areas of university life, including academics, on-campus residences, extracurriculars, off-campus professional programs, sporting events, and any other university-affiliated environment. Most student Codes of Conduct will prescribe disciplinary action for any/all of the following:

  • Academic dishonesty
  • Use of alcohol/drugs
  • Stalking
  • Violence or threatening behavior against other students
  • Violations of social media guidelines
  • Cybercrimes or computer crimes
  • Theft
  • Software piracy
  • Sexual assault, rape, and misconduct in sexual relationships
  • Destruction of property

Violations of the student Code of Conduct can result in severe consequences, including academic probation, restrictions on extracurricular activities, suspension, and expulsion. In many cases, these disciplinary actions may appear as notations on your permanent academic record, making it more difficult to get hired as a pharmacist down the road.

Professionalism Issues

PharmD students are expected to abide by high standards of professionalism in keeping with the requirements of their chosen profession. These standards are set by the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) and their respective state and local professional associations. These professional conduct standards must be adhered to by pharmacy students while they study for their PharmD degree. If a student fails to live up to these standards or accused of violating them outright, the school may impose severe sanctions that may include probation, remediation, suspension, or dismissal from the school. Violations of professional standards may also appear as a notation in the student's permanent record, potentially impacting their ability to obtain residencies or get hired.

Common examples of professional misconduct may include:

  • Falsification of official documents or records (including patient records)
  • Providing care in an unsafe or harmful way
  • Violating