St. Matthew's University School of Medicine (SMUSOM) students have been earning residencies and permanent licensure in Western medical programs since the school's founding in 1997. The allure of Grand Cayman and the promise of a medical degree attracts future medical professionals to SMUSOM each year.
When students arrive on campus, they quickly realize that academics come first and foremost. A five-semester Basic Sciences curriculum covers the gamut from Cellular Biology to Biochemistry, Neuroscience, and Clinic Skills. SMUSOM allots five more semesters for clinical clerkships, at which time students practice real-world medicine “in class hospitals like Johns Hopkins.”
You may find medical school to be a grueling marathon. You could possibly fall behind in your studies or move off-track in other ways. When you face academic hardship or become accused of unprofessionalism or unethical behavior, you must fight to mitigate any personal harm.
An experienced attorney-advisor will defend your interests and your future. They will guide you through the adjudication process at St. Matthew's University School of Medicine and file all necessary appeals.
Student Conduct Expectations
The SUSOM Student Catalog lists Standards of Professional Behavior & Academic Honesty, specifically detailing ‘Student Conduct, Academic Honesty, and Disciplinary Procedures' (p.49). This section of the Student Catalog states that “Each student is expected to behave in a manner consistent with the University's mission as an educational institution. Behaviors judged unprofessional, unethical, dishonest, illegal, threatening, or dangerous may be considered examples of misconduct.”
The SMUSOM Associate Dean of Student Affairs oversees disciplinary referrals. The Associate Dean of Student Affairs may handle your case personally or may delegate the case to the University's Disciplinary Committee. This Committee generally schedules a judicial hearing, at which time you may defend yourself from allegations of wrongdoing.
The range of sanctions that you could face for alleged academic, ethical, or professional wrongdoing runs from a verbal or written warning (least serious) to dismissal from St. Matthew's University (most serious).
Former medical students will tell you: Getting through ten (or more) semesters of medical school is easier said than done. In reality, the cognitive and emotional strain that medical school imposes may inevitably cause underperformance.
SMUSOM issues students four possible grades: Honors, High Pass, Pass, and Fail. These grades are based on the faculty's evaluation of your personal and professional maturity, clinical competence, technical skills, interpersonal skills, communication skills, problem-solving, and cognitive knowledge.
When you receive a failing grade, you may face:
- Mandatory repetition of a failed course (known as remediation)
- Academic probation
- Clinical probation
You generally have the chance to remediate a failed course once without facing dismissal. If you do not pass the course on your second try, the University explains, you “will be eligible for academic dismissal.” If the University places you on academic probation, then any failing grade that you receive may expose you to possible dismissal.
Failing grades remain on your transcript. Even upon successful repetition of the course, your academic record will reflect that you retook the course after failing.
For these reasons, you may want to forego remediation and academic probation if SMUSOM offers alternate solutions. The SMUSOM Student Catalog states that “Students have the right to file a grievance or appeal a decision of the university,” and you may appeal a failing grade to avoid having to retake a course. An attorney-advisor can handle this grievance process for you.
Potential grounds for dismissal from St. Matthew's University School of Medicine include:
- Failing a course while on academic probation
- Failing a course that you are remediating
- Violating the University's policies on academic honesty
- Violating the University's policies on professionalism
- Violating the University's Anti-Hazing policy
Dismissal may seem an extreme measure for SMUSOM to take, especially when you have invested untold hours and financial resources into your medical education. Do not assume, though, that you will not be expelled from SMUSOM.
Caribbean medical schools can be uneven in their enforcement of university policies. Certain universities are aware that outsiders may view Caribbean medical schools as lax and may enforce their disciplinary policies stringently to defy this perception.
Whether the Associate Dean of Student Affairs issues a decision for your case, or instead the Disciplinary Committee conducts a hearing and issues a decision, you need an effective defense. Your attorney-advisor will accompany you to meetings with the Dean, Disciplinary Committee, and any other parties involved in your case.
Even if you do not deny the material facts of allegations against you, you may appeal for leniency on the grounds that you've faced extraordinary circumstances or have an otherwise impressive record while at SMUSOM.
Per the Student Catalog, “There are due process protections in place when there is the possibility of the university's taking an adverse action against a medical student for academic or professionalism reasons.”
In other words, you can generally appeal any university decision that will negatively affect you. The Student Handbook, which you may have a copy of as a SMUSOM student, provides detailed instructions about how to complete an appeal.
There is ample reason to appeal any adverse decision, from a failing grade to dismissal from SMUSOM. Decisions rendered against you while in medical school may:
- Delay your graduation
- Cause you to leave SMUSOM
- Impede your acceptance to another medical school
- Harm your candidacy for residency programs
- Diminish your career prospects in the medical field
- Diminish your future earning power
- Limit your professional potential
Students generally incur substantial debt to attend medical school. If you do not graduate as planned and with high marks, then any debt that you have could become increasingly burdensome.
Hiring an Attorney-Advisor
If you face remediation, disciplinary sanctions, dismissal, or any other potential adverse consequence at St. Matthew's University School of Medicine, the time to act is now. Caribbean medical schools often lack clarity in their policies and procedures, and you can use the help of a trusted attorney-advisor. Hiring an attorney-advisor who is solely dedicated to your cause will ensure that you receive due process and may ultimately result in a positive outcome for your case.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento focuses on Caribbean medical school issues like few other attorneys do. Attorney Lento and his team at the Lento Law Firm have a mission to help aspiring doctors reach their academic and professional goals, and they does so by defending them and protecting their best interests while they are in medical school.
Attorney Lento and his team will familiarize themselves with your case and pursue the result that most protects your future. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your case. You can also reach us online here.