Student Defense: Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine

The Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) is a private medical school established recently in 2001. VCOM is the nation's second-largest medical school, with over 2,100 students attending its four campuses. Located on the primary campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, the school has three other branch campuses in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Auburn, Alabama, and Monroe, Louisiana. 

Becoming a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) is a significant accomplishment. The bar is high in terms of educational and performance standards. Students at VCOM must not only demonstrate ethical behavior befitting their future professions but also complete their coursework with good grades. A clear academic record and good performance open many doors for future DOs, allowing them to enjoy a thriving and lucrative career. However, when DO medical students face allegations of professional misconduct or failure to perform adequately, they risk multiple sanctions, accumulating in suspension depending on the violation. When issues such as these occur, DO medical students at VCOM should work with an attorney advisor that they trust to decrease the likelihood of an unfavorable case outcome.  

Professional and Ethical Expectations at VCOM 

According to the Honor Code, VCOM values mutual trust, intellectual honesty, and professionalism. Students have three fundamental responsibilities: educate themselves on, preserve, and correctly interpret the code. The code stipulates that attending students have the right to be part of a safe and trustworthy environment. It emphasizes that “every student is worthy of trust and that trusting a student is integral in making them worthy of that responsibility. The code's purpose is to protect every student's right to participate in an academic environment free from injustice caused by dishonesty”. As a result, VCOM established the Honor Code Council, which oversees the implementation of these principles. 

Demonstrating professional ethics is a core component of the future DO's personality. These standards protect both the doctor and the patient and place a great deal of responsibility on the DO. Any member of VCOM who witnesses a violation of the college's ethical standards must report the suspected violation using the school's online form. The Honor Code Council receives and reviews the report and assigns a case number. Suppose the HCC believes that the student is at fault. In that case, it imposes sanctions that range in severity from probation to expulsion.  


Mastering your coursework and receiving more than average grades is necessary at an osteopathic medical school. Even if you are the most ethical student at the college, you still cannot work with patients safely if you do not fully understand the material. However, students who receive low grades have the opportunity to reduce the likelihood of a suspension or penalty by completing remediation courses. Although these courses may seem bothersome and extra work, they serve an essential function. Having the opportunity to improve your grades can make all the difference when you're facing graduation delays.  

Consequences of Expulsion and Dismissal 

Receiving a dismissal or expulsion sanction from VCOM or any other osteopathic medical school has devastating long and short-term effects. Dismissals, even if temporary, upend your plans and prevent you from graduating on time. Additionally, you'll have a gap on your transcript and a negative notation, which deters other medical schools or employers from taking a chance with you.  

What's more devastating than dismissal is an expulsion. An expelled student will find it even more challenging to get into another medical school than on their first attempt. Although this severe sanction is only for the most egregious violations, it doesn't end there. Students facing permanent dismissal commonly face the following issues: 

  • Reputational Damage: Medical school, like the professional world and the workplace, is a place where you can damage your reputation. Even if you are entirely innocent, having a bad reputation is notoriously difficult to shake off, and others will hesitate to accept your professionalism or friendship.  
  • Loss of Money and Time: It's no secret that medical students have a great deal of responsibility. Between the time spent studying and the thousands of dollars you spend on housing and your degree, you'll lose years of time and effort if VCOM expels you.  
  • Difficulty Finding Another Medical School: Although you may assume that the solution to expulsion is to apply to another medical school, it's not that simple. Admissions officers prefer candidates with unblemished records and rarely take chances on those with ethical or academic issues.  

With so much that can go wrong after receiving a harsh sanction, it's essential that you avoid actions that could lead to a penalty. However, some students make honest mistakes due to the stress and pressure of staying afloat. In such matters, you need the guidance of an experienced attorney-advisor who knows the stakes and what to expect.  

What To Do When Facing Accusations  

If you're facing accusations of professional misconduct, ethical violations, or academic underperformance, you must act quickly. Although every case is unique, the following tips are some common-sense steps you can take to control the damage: 

  • Try not to discuss the matter with peers 
  • Avoid posting anything incriminating on social media 
  • Never retaliate against the reporter or the members of the HCC 
  • Do not let anger or fear deter you from defending yourself  
  • Contact an attorney-advisor with experience working with Osteopathic Medicine students for the best chance of success 

The more proactive you are after receiving a complaint, the better your chances of success and reduce the likelihood of damaging sanctions.   

Hiring an Attorney-Advisor 

Attorney-Advisor Joseph D. Lento works with Osteopathic Medicine students nationwide when facing damaging allegations. With years of experience handling complex and unique cases, attorney-advisor Lento works hard to decrease the chance of an unfair outcome.  

If you or someone you love face allegations of ethical violations, professional issues, or academic underperformance at VCOM, don't wait until it's too late to fight back. Contact the Lento Law Firm today for a thorough consultation at 888-535-3686.  

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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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