Few medical schools offer the one-of-a-kind experience of Saint James School of Medicine (SJSOM). Aspiring medical professionals can attend the accredited Caribbean university and leave the nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines with an MD.
The idyllic scenery of Caribbean Lesser Antilles can be quickly replaced with dread, however, if you experience academic difficulty, allegations of unprofessionalism, or a charge of academic misconduct. You should do everything within the rules to defend your academic record and good standing at SJSOM.
Any student at a Caribbean-based medical school has little room for error. A sterling reputation upon graduation may be necessary to obtain the caliber of job that you want. Without an experienced attorney by your side, an academic or ethical issue could seriously affect your job opportunities and future earning power.
Student Conduct Code at SJSOM
Saint James School of Medicine’s Student Catalog contains vital information, including the Student Code of Conduct (p.42). This Code requires SJSOM medical students to “exhibit conduct consistent with the ideals of the [medical] profession.”
Among other requirements, the SJSOM Student Code of Conduct requires students to:
- “Commit the time and energy to their studies necessary to achieve the goals and objectives of each course/clerkship”
- “Be on time for lectures, investigational, and clinical encounters”
- “Treat all fellow students, teachers, and staff with respect and fairness”
These demands relate to academic performance and have to do with a medical student's ethics and professionalism. Saint James School of Medicine can discipline you for professional or ethical failures, perhaps by expelling you:
“Violation of policies stated in this document, Code of Ethics or other published documents are viewed negatively by the administration and may result in disciplinary action against the student.”
The Student Code commits a robust section to Academic Dishonesty. This section states that “In general, academic dishonesty includes cheating on an examination of any type, or giving, receiving, offering or soliciting information on any examination.” Other specific acts may also qualify as academic dishonesty.
The SJSOM Disciplinary Committee handles both allegations of academic misconduct and other disciplinary matters.
Remediation is a complex topic when it comes to medical students. On the one hand, remediation may offer you the chance to:
- Remain an active student at the Saint James School of Medicine
- Retake a course or examination in which you have underperformed
- Continue your path towards graduation
SJSOM has a reasonably lenient remediation policy. Students can retake exams in up to two courses they are failing simultaneously. If a student does not successfully complete a retake exam, they will have to repeat the entire course. You must automatically retake failed courses if you fail three or more courses at a time.
As you can see, SJSOM extends retake opportunities liberally, but this does not mean that you should necessarily retake a failed exam or course. Remediation is not the right choice for every medical student.
When you repeat a course at SJSOM, you “may have to stay an additional semester.” You may also pay a fee to repeat the course, in addition to the cost of living, tuition, and other expenses stemming from your additional semester on the island.
This is key: You may also have to explain your extra semester in St. Vincent to residency programs and prospective employers.
Have no illusions about the seriousness of remediation. The SJSOM Student Code states that “In the case of a failure of a repeat course, the student would be dismissed as per school policy.” If you can secure a grade change and avoid retaking a course, you may just prevent possible dismissal from SJSOM.
Dismissal from SJSOM
The SJSOM Disciplinary Committee uses three primary sanctions when they deem a student's behavior unethical or unprofessional. Those actions are:
- Community service, which the Committee reserves for “minor offenses”
- Suspension from the Saint James School of Medicine
- Dismissal from the Saint James School of Medicine
Dismissal is the worst-case scenario for a medical student. Being dismissed is a glaring demerit that you may be unable to overcome. Saint James School of Medicine may not have been your first choice for medical school—being dismissed, though, could exhaust your last chance at becoming a doctor.
If you're facing dismissal (or other sanctions), you have the right to defend yourself. This is true whether a threat of dismissal stems from academic performance, failure to certify, alleged academic misconduct, or other alleged violations of the Student Code of Conduct.
Some grounds for action, like failing a retake course or failing to certify for the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE), may trigger an automatic dismissal. Like alleged academic misconduct or unprofessionalism, other issues may entitle you to a hearing before a university body (like the Disciplinary Committee) issues sanctions.
In either case, you may appeal a ruling that you believe is unfounded or unfair.
Appeals at SJSOM
SJSOM explains how you can appeal sanctions for academic misconduct or other alleged violations of the Student Code:
“Should the student desire to appeal the decision for punitive action, s/he shall notify the Dean and provide a written reason for the appeal, along with any supporting documents related to the appeal for review by the Provost (Chief Academic Officer) or his or her designee.”
An attorney-advisor can lead the appeals process for you. Your advisor may also help you file a grievance for a grade change, defend you from charges of wrongdoing, and complete other duties that could preserve your medical future.
Hiring an Attorney-Advisor for Your Medical School Issue
SJSOM issues a medical student performance evaluation (MSPE) to every graduating student. The MSPE summarizes your academic performance and notes both the positives and negatives from your time in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The school sends this MSPE to any residency programs to which you apply.
In other words, every single aspect of your medical school tenure matters. Even if you are not facing dismissal (especially if you are facing dismissal), hiring a qualified attorney-advisor is the right decision.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm fight passionately for medical students. Attorney Lento recognizes your lofty goals and will work hard to protect your academic record, reputation, and future job prospects. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 or contact us online to discuss your medical school issue and find out how we can help.