Given the increasing demand for healthcare in our society, the public demand for physician assistants (PAs) is greater than ever. PAs can perform many of the basic clinical functions that doctors do (e.g., conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illness, prescribe medications, etc.). Many people even list PAs as their primary care physicians.
Because a physician's assistant bears similar responsibilities to that of a doctor, the academic and professional standards are often just as high for PAs as for MDs, even though not as much schooling is required. Adverse disciplinary actions and other concerns can utterly derail a student's education and do damage to their career prospects in the healthcare profession. If you or your child has been accused of misconduct or are facing other disciplinary issues as a PA student, hiring an experienced attorney-advisor can go a long way toward helping you find a positive resolution.
Common Disciplinary Issues and Other Concerns Facing Physician's Assistant Students
Aspiring PAs may face a variety of issues while attending school, any of which can reflect badly on their academic/professional record if not properly addressed. Some of the most common concerns may include the following:
- Academic Underperformance
- Academic Misconduct
- Professionalism Concerns
- Physician's Assistant Clinical Placement Issues
- Student Misconduct and Disciplinary Hearings
- Title IX Allegations (i.e., Sexual Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, and Similar Concerns)
- Physician's Assistant Remediation
- National Certification Issues
While colleges, universities, and training facilities may have different protocols for handling these concerns, the potential outcomes are typically the same—often to the student's detriment. Understanding the investigative and disciplinary process for a specific school is key to successfully addressing and resolving misconduct allegations while ensuring the student's rights are protected.
PA students typically deal with demanding course loads with high minimum academic standards, and it's not unusual for even the best students to fall behind or underperform. This doesn't always happen because the student can't grasp the material; sometimes, external issues like family crises, medical problems, or psychological stress can prevent students from giving their best. Academic shortfalls can lead to remediation, academic probation, suspension, or even dismissal—and unfortunately, many schools default to these solutions without addressing the underlying problems that may have led to underperformance.
Schools generally take academic integrity very seriously, and most require their students to agree to abide by an established Honor Code or Code of Ethics. Allegations of cheating, plagiarism, fabricating data/results, improper collaborations, and the like can result in disciplinary action against a PA student, often permanently tarnishing the student's reputation and academic record.
In keeping with the public trust instilled in healthcare professions in general, physician's assistants are expected to behave with the utmost respect and professionalism toward faculty, colleagues, and patients. Questionable behavior or misunderstandings may sometimes result in allegations against a PA student, often leading to disciplinary action.
Student Misconduct and Disciplinary Hearings
Colleges, universities, and medical training facilities all have their own specific Codes of Conduct for students, and violations of the rules may result in disciplinary hearings that may have a negative impact on the student's future. Common student misconduct charges may include:
- Alcohol or drugs on campus
- Destruction of property
- Social media, Internet violations or cyber crimes
- Cyberbullying and cyberstalking
- Breaking and entering
Title IX Charges
Allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct fall under federal Title IX regulations, and most schools deal with these issues under a separate Title IX department. However, a PA student dealing with Title IX allegations can face disciplinary actions that can both damage career prospects and ruin their reputations.
Physician's Assistant Remediation
Most schools for physician's assistants offer some form of remediation to help struggling students get back on track when they face academic shortfalls. Remediation for PA students may include some or all of the following:
- Retaking a course
- Retaking a curriculum level assessment
- Retaking a semester
- Retaking an entire year
- Customized programs designed to fill in gaps
Remediation is typically well-intentioned and serves a valid purpose, but sometimes schools jump to remediation too quickly, unnecessarily costing PA students additional time and money on their education. In some instances, the need for remediation may also show up on a student's academic record, throwing a potential damper on future job prospects. If you are facing what you believe to be unfair remediation, a skilled attorney-advisor can apprise you of your options for alternative resolution.
Physician's assistant students have the right to appeal bad academic grades as well as adverse disciplinary decisions like probation, suspension, or dismissal. The exact process for doing so will be different for each school, but understanding the appeals processes may be critical to protecting your academic and professional record, and indeed your future as a PA. The help of an attorney-advisor can be extremely beneficial in matters of appeal.
For the PA student, dismissal from a school or academic program represents the worst-case scenario. It typically results in thousands of dollars in lost tuition and academic progress, not to mention throwing the student's whole career into jeopardy. Dismissed students sometimes (but rarely) may seek readmission to the school, or they may try with some difficulty to get accepted to another program—but many students find the challenges nearly impossible to overcome at this point. The assistance of an attorney-advisor may be critical to helping you avoid this outcome if at all possible.
Helping Physician's Assistant Students with Disciplinary and Other School Issues Nationwide
The key to finding favorable resolutions to most PA student disciplinary issues and other concerns comes down to choosing an experienced attorney-advisor. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has successfully helped countless students around the country resolve academic, professional, and Title IX misconduct issues, as well as other school-related disputes and concerns unique to physician's assistant students. Don't let your career be jeopardized by these issues when help is just a phone call away. Contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 today to discuss your options.