Located in Bryan, TX, the Texas A&M University College of Medicine was first founded in 1977 and graduated its first class in 1981, making it one of the country's newer medical schools. Today, the school is an integral part of the Texas A&M Health Science Center, enrolling more than 600 students each year. Texas A&M College of Medicine holds its students to strict academic and professional standards, and the medical school's Honor Council is responsible for investigating claims of misconduct.
Given the public trust invested in the field of medicine, medical students must maintain a pristine record of academic and professional excellence. Disciplinary proceedings can tarnish a student's record, potentially jeopardizing future career opportunities in medicine. Hiring an attorney-advisor in such situations can help students avail themselves of all available recourse to protect their financial investment, and ultimately, their career.
Aggie Code of Honor
Texas A&M College of Medicine, like other schools within the University, centers its policies around the Aggie Code of Honor, which states simply:
“An Aggie does not lie, cheat or steal or tolerate those who do.”
The school expands on this maxim by emphasizing six core values within its Guiding Principles of professionalism: Excellence, Integrity, Leadership, Loyalty, Respect, and Selfless Service. The school's entire code of conduct draws inspiration from the Code of Honor and the Core Values, and enforcement of the code is guided by an established Aggie Conduct Awareness Rubric which details procedures for investigating and processing incidents of misconduct. To that end, and to invoke positive peer pressure, Texas A&M encourages students to report incidents of exemplary behavior as well as of concerning behavior.
Allegations of academic misconduct are overseen by the Aggie Honor System Office (AHSO), which may refer the case to the Honor Council for hearings. If the Honor Council finds that misconduct took place, it may recommend sanctions against the student which may range from academic probation to suspension and/or dismissal.
Texas A&M College of Medicine holds its students to strict academic schedules with an expectation of at least a 3.0 GPA. Under these conditions, it can be challenging even for the most committed students to keep up academically. To help medical students right the ship on their course work and grades, the school provides an ongoing remediation course called the Academic Integrity Development Program, held three times a semester. Students who are placed on Honor Violation Probation for academic misconduct are required to complete remediation to have the probation rescinded.
Remediation costs the medical student additional time and money, but considering that repeated academic shortfalls and/or misconduct can result in dismissal, remediation may also be an important tool for protecting the student's future medical career.
Serious acts of professional misconduct, as well as consistent academic misconduct or shortfalls, may result in expulsion from the medical school. Texas A&M defines “expulsion” as “Separation of the student from the University whereby the student is not eligible for readmission to this University.”
It can be very difficult, if not impossible, for a medical student to continue pursuing a medical career if expulsion takes place. The repercussions of this action can compound, causing multiple problems for the student both now and in the future. For example:
- The student may not gain acceptance at another school. Medical schools are known to have excessively high admissions standards, most accepting only a small number of applicants each year. A student with an expulsion on his/her record won't be considered a high-priority candidate.
- The student may have to start over. Providing the medical student finds a path back into medical school, credits already earned will not carry over, meaning the student must repeat all courses from the beginning.
- The student suffers financial loss. Medical school is quite expensive, and any money paid out of pocket toward a medical degree is a loss once the student is expelled.
- The student may be burdened with high student debt. Medical students often take tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of student loans, banking on their future physician's salary to pay it off. Expulsion throws that plan into jeopardy, so now the student may have to find other means to pay the debt.
Before disciplinary action becomes final, Texas A&M students may file an appeal to the Director of the Aggie Honor System Office, who may in turn schedule an appeals hearing. The school will only entertain appeals on the following grounds:
- To introduce “substantial new evidence”;
- To claim a violation of due process;
- To dispute the sanction not commensurate with the violation; and/or
- To dispute the facts leading to the finding.
The appeals process is the last window of opportunity to save the medical student's education and career. At Texas A&M, this window is only open for five business days after the finding of the Honor Council, so students facing discipline should act quickly.
Attorney Advisor for Medical Students
Why hire an attorney advisor for medical school disciplinary proceedings? Just as medical students face constant pressure to maintain a stellar record, medical schools face a similar pressure to maintain high standards of academics and ethical conduct. Under these pressures, sometimes medical students suffer the consequences of rushed decisions, disproportionate disciplinary action, and lack of due process. Having an attorney advisor involved helps preserve the due process rights of the student, and in many cases helps the student find a path to resolution that avoids expulsion.
Joseph Lento helps medical students navigate the difficult processes of disciplinary action. Contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 today to learn more.