Student Defense: Rutgers School of Dental Medicine, New Jersey

Rutgers School of Dental Medicine (Rutgers SDM) is a public dental school established in 1956. The school aims to train highly skilled dentists who help maintain their communities' dental health. It is one of only two public dental schools in the New York Metro area and the only one in its home state of New Jersey. Getting into Rutgers SDM is no easy feat as it is highly competitive and has a 5% acceptance rate. Rutgers SDM offers multiple programs, including the four-year Doctor of Dental Medicine Degree, a two-year program for international dentists, and graduate and specialty dental education.

As a dentistry student, you'll gain a wealth of experience in your four years of study and work harder than you have during your undergraduate education. Although these years are perhaps among the most memorable of your student life, they also come with many challenges. Because you're under considerable pressure to succeed, you may partake in actions that genuinely aren't like you. Whether you made a mistake or experienced a lapse in judgment, facing sanctions for academic or behavioral misconduct or progression issues has significant repercussions on your future career. Without the help of an attorney-advisor, you may encounter issues before graduation or not make it until the end of your program.

Core Values and Code of Conduct

According to the student handbook at Rutgers SDM, the school's mission emphasizes improving health and quality of life by educating oral health professionals and scientists. These future dentists conduct essential research, promote health practices, and provide care to their communities and beyond. To meet these criteria, you must demonstrate excellent ethical and academic behavior befitting your future profession. And while it is expected that you're in a learning process and will make mistakes along the way – not all errors are the same.

The code of professional conduct and ethics included within the student handbook emphasizes that students must have a consistent drive to develop ethical values, altruism, compassion, and empathy. There are four primary points within the code:

  • Expecting students to abide by the highest ethical standards
  • Fostering an atmosphere that dissuades ethical conduct
  • Allowing all students to receive fair and equal treatment
  • Committing to collaboration, respect, cooperation, and harmonious relationships

Those who perform actions against the above principles risk standing before a hearing body. The hearing body conducts a session to examine the evidence presented against a student and decide on the appropriate sanctions.

Academic Integrity Policy

The academic integrity policy at Rutgers University applies to all students who attend Rutgers, including dental students. It describes the types of violations that students can receive sanctions for and includes:

  • Academic Sabotage: This happens when you intentionally prevent your peers from progressing in their studies.
  • Cheating: Any activity that allows a student to gain an academic advantage over their peers is part of this violation.
  • Fabrication: Students must not falsify sources, citations, data, or results during any academic exercise.
  • Facilitation of Dishonesty: This action involves allowing other students to copy or use your work. In other cases, it is an act you commit that helps another person violate the principles of academic integrity.
  • Plagiarism: You may not use information or ideas made by others without giving credit to the original author.
  • Violations involving criminal activity: These miscellaneous violations involve committing academic misconduct using illegal or illicit means.

Adjudicating violations comes under different levels depending on the severity of the action and the student's overall behavior. While the adjudication process differs slightly, all carry the risk of receiving sanctions, with suspension and expulsion being the most severe punishments.


Dental students may sometimes face progression issues unrelated to their ethical behavior. Suppose a student seems to have trouble with the material and isn't progressing quickly. In that case, the SACP recommends tutorials, academic counseling, and remedial programs to address the issues. As per the student handbook, each student receives a review of their coursework performance regularly during the academic year.

Usually, the remediation sessions happen during the summer semester. However, for those who have significant trouble keeping up, the SACP may decide to place the student on academic probation and ask them to repeat a year. Although remediation is a burdensome process, in some cases, it is necessary to ensure that you stay enrolled in your program. In other cases, you may have the chance to negotiate the need for this route, but every case differs.

Consequences of Dismissal

Dismissal from dental school comes with many issues that affect you if you plan on pursuing a dental career. Besides the reputation damage, you'll experience difficulties when you want to re-enroll in another dental school. Usually, admissions officers prefer to choose new students with no negative remarks on their transcript instead of a student that may pose problems down the line.

Although this sanction only applies to the most severe cases, a temporary dismissal wreaks havoc on your future. Although you may assume that it's easy to bounce back from such a sanction, it will take time, money, and effort to start over.

Contacting an Attorney-Advisor

Being a dentistry student comes with its highs and lows – facing academic, behavioral, or performance issues is a real possibility. Although you may assume it's easy to take on a hearing panel alone, a lack of preparation and understanding of the adjudication process can ruin your educational endeavors. For the best results, you need the guidance of a professional who understands your concerns and what's at stake.

Attorney-Advisor Joseph D. Lento specializes in student defense. With many years of experience working with students across the country, Attorney-Advisor Lento can help you during this stressful and confusing time. With his expertise and knowledge, Advisor Lento recommends the best course of action and negotiates with your hearing panel for a fair outcome.

If you or someone you love faces issues at Rutgers SDM, now is the time to act. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 for more information.

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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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