Student Defense: Dieticians

Dieticians are essential members of the Allied Health community who help people manage their nutrition appropriately. You will play a key role in disease prevention to help people avoid costly doctor visits and chronic ailments. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for your services will grow by 11% between 2020 and 2030. If you are training to become a dietitian, you must finish your bachelor's degree and take a licensing examination. The licensing requirements depend on your state. But to receive that license and complete your degree, you must act ethically, competently, and professionally.

When you face allegations of unethical and unprofessional conduct, you may stand before a hearing panel and receive sanctions. The same applies to a lack of academic progress, but you may have options for remediation depending on your program. Without the help of an experienced attorney-advisor who understands what is at stake, you face graduation delays or permanent discharge regardless of the time and effort spent working on your degree.

Conduct Issues

Dietitians are not doctors or nurses but still play a critical role in the healthcare industry. As a result, they must consistently demonstrate proper conduct. Since you will be working with people and managing their health, you must have ethical standards that help you work harmoniously, ethically, and safely with others. The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics published a Code of Ethics that perspective dietitians must follow. These principles are essential to practice throughout your program and once you graduate. These include:

  • Conducting yourself with the principles of honesty, integrity, and fairness
  • Implementing your practice based on scientific principles and current information
  • Being able to present substantiated information and interpret controversial information without using personal bias and recognizing that differences of opinion exist and are legitimate
  • Assuming responsibility and accountability for your practice and striving to increase your knowledge and skills
  • Exercising professional judgment within the limits of your qualifications and collaborating with others or seeking counsel when necessary
  • Providing accurate and sufficient information to your clients that enables them to make informed decisions
  • Protecting people's confidential information and making complete disclosures to your patients about limitations that may impede your ability to guarantee absolute confidentiality
  • Providing your services with objectivity and respecting the unique needs and values of your patients
  • Refraining from promoting practices and endorsements that may be false and misleading

The American Dietetic Association and the Commission on Dietetic Registration of Credentialed Practitioners handle all matters of ethics and conduct after graduation. But before you reach this phase, you will have to face a disciplinary panel or hearing board in your college.

Lack of Academic Progress

Although maintaining moral and ethical behavior is integral to your program and practice, satisfactory academic progress is just as essential for success. You must understand theoretical concepts and apply them as you move along. It is no secret that studying to be a dietitian is not easy. However, that does not mean that the chronic stress and the hours of studying will not take their toll. Many students perform well during the first part of their program, only to falter later on as the gravity and weight of the expectations increase.

Many students find expulsion challenging because of the money and time spent on the degree. Administrators monitor your progress from when you start and establish ways to improve your grades before it's too late. But chronic failure to progress academically harms your graduation prospects. You may face academic probation and fail to complete your program altogether.

Sometimes, you can appeal your grade and speak to an advisor to establish a plan for academic success. However, you must follow through with your promises and maintain high marks to keep up with your peers and graduate on time. As a prospective dietitian, you are in a position of public trust, and the health of your patients is in your hands. Moving on to more senior roles, you may plan meals for a school or work with seniors with special dietary needs. That's why you need to be on top of your game or face consequences that include sanctions for unsatisfactory progress.

Professionalism issues

Dietitians must exercise professionalism from the time they start studying and permanently after they graduate. The Code of Ethics for the Profession of Dietetics also stresses the importance of professional behavior. Patients, peers, and the public must feel safe and comfortable working with you. According to the manual, the following actions are examples of unprofessional behaviors to refrain from as a student and future practitioner:

  • Failing to provide professional services that are sensitive to cultural differences
  • Discriminating against clients due to race, creed, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, or gender
  • Engaging in sexual harassment during professional practice and while studying for their degree
  • Failing to provide objective evaluations for employee and coworker/peer performance
  • Not making a reasonable effort to avoid bias and provide professional evaluations
  • Not Avoiding conflicts of interest or offering full disclosure if a potential one arises
  • Advertising or promoting products in a false and misleading manner
  • Engaging in substance-abuse
  • Not being mentally competent to continue in the profession

The training to adopt professional behavior starts when you enroll in your dietician program. Suppose faculty members or peers believe that you are acting unprofessionally. They may speak to a disciplinary board and file a case against you in that case. Even before a hearing, these allegations have substantial repercussions that harm your reputation. Moreover, the long and short-term consequences of reputation damage due to unprofessional behavior are debilitating.

What To Do After Facing Accusations

Once you receive notice of an allegation against you, try to understand what the charges are and what part of the student handbook you allegedly violated. After an accusation, your first instinct may be to give in to anger or despair due to the circumstances. While this is a stressful incident, how you act can either boost your chances of success or lead to an unfavorable outcome.

Usually, the Dean or an official from your college will contact you to discuss these allegations privately before deciding whether to move on to a hearing. The hearing process is often brutal for students and takes time to complete. You may not have the appropriate evidence or strategy to overcome it properly. However, with a professional attorney-advisor, the issue is less likely to escalate to the point of no return.

Do not give in to your anger or confront the person who made the allegation. Instead, understand the charges by reviewing the handbook, contacting an attorney advisor, and refrain from commenting publicly on the allegations. Also, look at your social media use and remove any evidence of wrongdoing or behaviors that paint you in a negative light.

Speaking of evidence, you need to have factual information and witness statements to substantiate your claims. Panel members want to understand why you committed a specific action, and some behaviors may be unlike you. Getting character references from people who can attest to your positive qualities may increase the likelihood of a better case outcome.

During a hearing, panel members review your history. The panel is more likely to impose harsh sanctions if you have previous violations and chronic behavioral or academic issues. One of the best ways to deal with this issue is by working with an attorney-advisor. An advisor understands how hearing panels work and can identify potential problems before they affect the final decision. In some cases, an advisor may also help you negotiate a fair deal that doesn't involve permanent dismissal or suspension.

Consequences of Expulsion

Receiving a permanent discharge from your program is a life-altering penalty that may change your career trajectory and prevent you from continuing on this path. Although you may assume that you can start another program, the reality is that admissions officers may find issues with your application. With a notation on your permanent transcript, you will also face questions from prospective employers. No matter how to try to approach the topic, it is an embarrassing situation to go through that may incur harsh judgment.

Some of the issues you may face if you experience a permanent discharge include:

  • The Inability to Enroll in Another Program: Admissions officers review the transcripts and grades of potential candidates. These officers favor those with unblemished records. If you have a negative notation on your permanent record, they are more likely to discard your application.
  • Loss of Time and Effort: You spent considerable time studying to become a dietitian, but an expulsion puts you back at square one. Suppose you live in a state with limited educational opportunities. In that case, you may need to relocate if you insist on pursuing a dietician degree. All the effort you put into this degree, including the time and nights spent studying, doesn't matter.
  • Reputation Damage: A positive reputation is essential for career continuity in the Allied Healthcare field. Employers and peers will be less likely to work with you if you have a negative reputation. You may need to work harder to reach the same result as recent graduates. Unfortunately, even if you're innocent, people are not quick to forget. A bad reputation may haunt you well beyond your college years.
  • Financial Repercussions: A dietitian program can run you under thousands of dollars of student debt. With an explosion, all the money spent on your degree no longer matters. Besides the money spent on your degree, the unexpected expenses for housing, travel, and accommodations incur additional debt. This financial burden takes years to pay off, even if you complete a degree at another school.
  • Loss of Scholarships and Grants: Scholarship givers usually reward good behavior and penalize students who face expulsion and suspension. Losing these is disastrous for your progress and harms your reputation. You may not be able to apply to future programs because of your expulsion record.
  • Loss of Enthusiasm and Morale: After everything that you go through, including a panel, reputation damage, and loss of time and effort, you may lose your interest and enthusiasm for becoming a dietitian. Sometimes, the stress leads students to forgo this degree and choose another path that takes more time, effort, and years to complete.

Hiring an Attorney-Advisor

You are still a student, and your professors and administrators expect you to make mistakes as you progress in your program. However, some mistakes are costlier and lead to degree revocation and expulsion. When these issues arise, never try to tackle them alone. Even if you believe you have a strong case and defense, the stress and adjudication process can affect your mental health. For the best chances of receiving a favorable case outcome, you need the guidance of a professional specializing in student defense.

An attorney-advisor works closely with you to overcome challenges by addressing the issue and creating a strategy that helps you overcome it. The more experience and knowledge your advisor has, the better equipped you are to face a panel without issue.

Attorney-Advisor Joseph D. Lento understands what you and your family are going through during this difficult time. With years of experience working with students nationwide, advisor Lento knows what is at stake and works tirelessly in your best interests.

Advisor Lento knows what it feels like to stand before a panel and helps you develop a strategy that helps lead to a fair outcome. With his experience and knowledge, advisor Lento identifies bias, unsubstantiated claims, and procedural errors that cause issues during a hearing.

Moreover, the moral and mental support of seasoned professional Mr. Lento makes all the difference when your degree is on the line. In some cases, advisor Lento works to negotiate an acceptable deal with the panel to reduce the impact of sanctions on your future. The sooner you work with an attorney-advisor, the greater your chances of success.

If you or someone you care for experiences allegations of conduct, academic progress, or professionalism issues, every minute counts in your case outcome. Call the Lento Law Firm today for a thorough and discreet consultation at 888-535-3686.

Contact Us Today!

If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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