Texas Tech University's Paul L. Foster School of Medicine (PLFSOM) is a state university with a mission to promote high standards of innovative medical education. PLFSOM once served as a regional campus that educated third and fourth-year medical students before receiving accreditation in 2008. Today, PLFSOM offers an immersive and intensive curriculum that attracts students nationwide. PLFSOM graduates enjoy multiple professional opportunities and have a solid launching pad to start their careers.
Students attending PLFSOM must demonstrate professional and ethical standards congruent with their chosen future profession. The school promotes these standards through its code of professional and academic conduct and student handbook. Those caught violating these standards face numerous repercussions, including permanent dismissal from campus grounds.
Students facing accusations of misconduct don't have to face the allegations alone. With the guidance of a professional misconduct advisor, the chances of reaching a favorable resolution increase, allowing students to pursue their dreams of becoming doctors.
Honor Code and Professional Policy
PLFSOM mandates that all medical students abide by the policies in its student handbook. The school has a comprehensive system to deal with misconduct cases, from reporting guidelines to administering sanctions. All students must pledge to abide by the Medical Student Honor Code Policy upon matriculation, which states, in part, that:
“I will uphold the dignity of the medical profession. I will, to the best of my ability, avoid actions [that] might result in harm to my patients. I will protect the dignity of my patients and the deceased and protect their confidential information [according to] the prevailing standards of medical practice. I will not lie, cheat, or steal. I will enter into professional relationships with my colleagues, teachers, and other health care professionals in a manner that is respectful and reflective of the high standards and expectations of my profession”.
PLFSOM has a zero-tolerance policy for the violation of professional standards, even if unintentional. Staff members and students suspecting a breach of these policies must report them to the Associate Dean for Student Affairs. PLFSOM must enforce such strict reporting standards to maintain a level playing field for its students and protect patients. However, a mistake or lapse in judgment should not mean sanctions that adversely impact a student's progress.
Some college administrations enforce overly harsh sanctions as an example for other students. Despite the gravity of an alleged violation, all students have the right to a fair hearing and resolution process. An attorney advisor identifies procedural errors during a hearing, decreasing the likelihood of receiving a disproportionate penalty from an overzealous committee.
Remediation Policy at PLFSOM
Medical students receive thorough training before becoming doctors due to the sensitive nature of the profession. PLFSOM pledges responsibility to award passing grades only to students that demonstrate mastery of their course material as stipulated in its grading policies. Fortunately, students struggling to keep up with their peers have remediation options to help them get back on track and, most importantly, graduate on time.
The Grading and Promotion Committee (GPC) recommends remediation, repeating a year, or permanent dismissal after multiple failures. Students can also appeal the GPC's recommendations within five business days of receiving notice of the decision. Suppose a student has an “F” on their transcript. In that case, a remediation course changes it to “successfully remediated” after they undergo the requirements mandated by the GPC.
Students with poor academic performance can take advantage of the benefits of remediation, especially when it means staying in medical school. Although some may see remediation as a burden, it is the only way to remain enrolled without starting the process anew and losing more time before graduating.
Dismissal Procedure and Appeals
The journey of becoming a doctor is long and rewarding, but some medical students make mistakes that cut the path short. Reasons for permanent discharge listed in PLFSOM's Dismissal Policy include lack of academic progress, engaging in academic/research misconduct, and performing unethical, illegal, or fraudulent behavior. Expulsion isn't the only issue students face after violating professional standards. Other sanctions include withholding or the revocation of their degree.
Expulsion has disastrous long and short-term consequences for medical students. Some of the challenges students face after permanent dismissal include:
- Reputation damage. Professional misconduct wreaks havoc on a medical student's reputation and negatively impacts a student's professional and social life.
- Enrollment challenges. Enrolling in a new medical school program may seem like the natural next step for expelled students – but it's not that simple. Medical schools have high performance and conduct thresholds that even students in good standing cannot surpass when first applying. Those with expulsion on their transcript may not get into another medical school quickly.
- Wasted Effort. Medical students who do manage to enroll in another school cannot pick up where they left off. It may take a year or more to get back on track, wasting time and effort.
- Increased debt. Loans set students behind thousands of dollars in debt, and medical students are no exception. However, with an expulsion, students must take on more debt, including finding new housing and dealing with unexpected expenses that take years to pay off even after starting their careers.
Students have the right to appeal the Student Conduct Board's dismissal if they believe a procedural violation occurred or have new evidence to bolster their claims. The Provost considers the evidence and makes a final decision regarding the appeal.
The Role of an Attorney-Advisor
Every student deserves a fair hearing and the chance to defend against damaging accusations. With the help of an attorney advisor, students build a concrete defense strategy and present their case with a better chance of a positive outcome.
Attorney Advisor Joseph D. Lento works with students facing academic challenges and allegations of professional misconduct nationwide, helping them receive justice and due process. You don't have to face a hearing and panel alone. Call Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your next steps.