Located in North Chicago, IL, the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science (RFU) originally began in 1912 as the Chicago Hospital-College of Medicine, a night school for medical students. Since that time, this private medical institution has evolved through several locations and name changes to encompass five distinctive schools and an enrollment of 2000 students. RFU holds its students to the highest standards of academic and professional integrity, with complaints and misconduct allegations being administered by the Student Affairs Judiciary Committee (SAJC).
A career in medicine is ultimately one of public trust, which means medical students must uphold the highest levels of ethics as well as academic achievement. Allegations of misconduct or disciplinary actions on a student's academic record can have serious consequences for future career opportunities. In situations where the student's performance comes under scrutiny, hiring an attorney-advisor can be extremely useful in protecting both the student's career and reputation, as well as ensuring due process is duly afforded.
Student Conduct Policy
RFU's expectations for academic and professional excellence, as well as its disciplinary policies, are spelled out in the school's Student Conduct Policy contained within the Student Handbook.
“The purpose of the student judicial process is to assist each student in the
development of a responsible lifestyle which is rewarding to the individual student, respectful of the rights of others, and compatible with the legal norms of society,” the handbook says. “The student judicial process plays a supportive role in the development of responsible student behavior.”
The school places a high premium on academic integrity and sponsors an Academic Integrity Committee of faculty, staff, and students to set and enforce policy. Incidents of academic or behavioral misconduct are investigated and reviewed by the SAJC and recommendations sent to the Associate Dean of Student Affairs. Disciplinary action comes in the form of sanctions, which may be as mild as a warning, but may also include mandatory counseling, probation, administrative leave of absence, suspension, or expulsion.
Given the stringent academic standards and aggressive course schedules at medical schools like RFU, it can be exceptionally difficult even for the most dedicated students to keep pace academically. In such cases, medical schools frequently offer remedial solutions to help students get back on course while meeting the high qualifications needed for a medical degree.
Sometimes, remediation can be avoided in cases where a student can present a case for unfair grading and prove completion of the work. That said, while remediation can be costly and time-consuming, it can also be an effective alternative to dismissal for academic shortfalls, thereby saving the student's career.
RFU defines “expulsion” as “permanent exclusion from the university as a whole and termination of all rights and privileges associated with student status.” If a student faces expulsion at RFU, he/she will not be permitted to reapply, and the expulsion becomes a permanent part of his/her academic record. In addition, where applicable, the school may opt to withdraw or refuse to award diplomas if they were earned.
For a medical student, expulsion is the worst-case scenario and can have serious repercussions on a future career in medicine. In addition to the humiliation of dismissal itself, an expulsion from medical school can result in a cascade of consequences, including the following:
- Difficulty gaining acceptance at another medical school. Considering how competitive the admissions process is with medical schools in general, an expelled student will usually not have a high priority as a candidate.
- Re-starting the entire academic process. Assuming the student can re-enroll somewhere else, it's a safe bet that no transcripts of previous academic progress will apply. This could amount to months or years of repeated courses at additional expense.
- Loss of financial investment. An expulsion from medical school amounts to a total loss of any tuition paid, often in the tens of thousands of dollars.
- Incredible debt loads. If the student took out student loans to pay for a medical education, those loans still have to be repaid—even though the student no longer has the prospect of a physician's salary to pay for it.
Appeals of Disciplinary Action
Once the school makes a determination on disciplinary action, the student has the right to appeal the ruling. The appeal is effectively the last line of defense, and in the case of expulsion, possibly the last opportunity to rescue the student's academic and professional career.
According to RFU's policy, appeals may be submitted to the Provost for review on any of the following grounds:
- To raise a procedural issue that may have affected the outcome;
- To introduce new information; or
- To dispute the sanction as “grossly disproportionate” to the offense.
RFU only allows a 10-day window for filing an appeal with the Provost, so it's important to take action as soon as possible after the ruling occurs.
Attorney Advisor for Academic and Professional Misconduct Allegations
Just as the medical student feels pressure to maintain a pristine academic and professional record, medical schools also feel pressure to maintain an irreproachable public image. To this end, sometimes allegations of professional, ethical, or academic misconduct are met too hastily, too aggressively or without proper due process—all to the detriment of the student. Having an attorney advisor to guide you through the complex process of the school disciplinary process can help ensure you take full advantage of the rights afforded to you in hope that you can preserve your reputation and your career.
Joseph Lento can assist you in ensuring your rights are protected. Contact the office of the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 today to learn more.