First founded in 1962 as Rutgers Medical School, the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJMS) is now named for Robert Wood Johnson, II, of the company Johnson & Johnson. Today, it is one of two medical schools under the umbrella of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences—the other being Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. It hosts a total enrollment of more than 700 students and accepts only about 5.4 percent of its applicants.
The practice of medicine is a public trust. Therefore medical schools like RWJMS hold their students to high levels of academic excellence and professional conduct in keeping with their chosen profession. A stellar academic record can open many career doors for a medical student, while disciplinary marks can have the opposite effect. As a medical student, if you come under investigation for allegations of academic or professional misconduct, your future could be at stake. Having an experienced attorney-advisor in your corner can make a major difference in the outcome.
Code of Professional Conduct & Policy on Professionalism
Medical students at RWJMS are required to agree to the school's Code of Professional Conduct and the Policy on Professionalism and the Learning Environment. They pledge to uphold high standards of honesty, excellence, and professional dealings with the school, with patients, and with each other.
Student academic matters are overseen by the Academic Standing Committee, while alleged violations of the Code of Professional Conduct are investigated by the Student Professional Conduct Committee (SPCC) or by a Dean of Student Affairs. Misconduct allegations are taken seriously, and if the appropriate committee finds a violation occurred, the student may be subject to any of a series of disciplinary actions ranging from reprimands and probation to suspension or dismissal, and possibly even revocation of degree.
Attending medical school can be grueling, to say the least. Students are expected to maintain acceptable grades while keeping up with rigorous course schedules, and even the most dedicated students sometimes fall short. To help students stay on track academically, RWJMS has instituted a structure for remediation by which students may repeat certain courses or even semesters and school years. The process of remediation is time-consuming and may come at additional expense. If a student deems remediation to be unfair, he/she may be able to avert it through a successful grade dispute. However, in cases where a student might otherwise face dismissal for academic shortcomings, remediation may be the best choice to protect the student's career prospects.
RWJMS defines “dismissal” as “severing the affiliation between the student and the School.” Dismissal can occur due to ongoing poor academic performance or by finding a student in violation of student conduct policies.
No medical student wants to face the prospect of dismissal because it can throw their entire future into jeopardy. In addition to the immediate humiliation and a derogatory academic record, the student may also face a cascading array of complications stemming from the dismissal, including:
- Barriers to re-enrollment. If a dismissed medical student wishes to re-apply at a different medical school, he/she may encounter difficulties getting accepted due to stringent admissions standards.
- Repeating all coursework. Assuming the student manages to re-enroll in medical school, he/she will likely have to start over from the beginning.
- Exorbitant student debt. If the student took out student loans to go to medical school, those loans would be due and payable even when the student is dismissed—and without the prospect of a physician's salary to help.
Appealing Disciplinary Actions
At RWJMS, students have the right to appeal a disciplinary decision before it becomes final. In the case of dismissal, the school sets the effective date of dismissal as two weeks after the official determination letter has been sent. Students wishing to appeal their dismissal must send a letter to the Dean within this two-week framework in order for the decision to be reconsidered, and at that point, the Dean's decision will be final. The medical student must file a compelling appeal to reverse the dismissal, as this may be the last opportunity to save their career.
Hiring an Attorney-Advisor
To a medical school, public reputation is everything. For that reason, the school is under constant pressure to deal swift justice to alleged incidents of academic or professional wrongdoing. Unfortunately, sometimes this aggressive stance results in medical students being unfairly disciplined or denied due process, which can wreak havoc on their professional future.
Students are permitted to hire private counsel to help them navigate school disciplinary investigations and hearings. An experienced attorney-advisor can help you bolster your defense while protecting your right to due process with the school. In more than a few cases, this added support can make the difference between a positive outcome and a negative one.
Joseph D. Lento is an expert in medical student misconduct investigations. He has successfully defended students against unfair charges in medical schools across the country, saving many careers in the process. You don't have to face a disciplinary investigation alone—let the Lento Law Firm provide the advice and support you need to defend your good name. Call (888) 535-3686 to learn more.