The University of the West Indies Faculty of Medical Sciences

The Faculty of Medical Sciences boasts a “seventy-year history of medical training and practice at The University of The West Indies (UWI).” The university offers a variety of medical science programs, from optometry to pharmacy, nursing, dentistry, and general medicine.

There should be no confusion: Just because you are conducting your studies amidst the natural beauty of the West Indies does not mean the school takes academic integrity, professionalism, or academic performance lightly. UWI Faculty of Medical Sciences (UWI FOMS) will not hesitate to impose sanctions—possibly including dismissal—if it finds you in violation of its rules.

Medical student issues may be particularly challenging for those studying in the Caribbean. Cultural differences, varying practices across medical universities, and other challenges make it important that you hire an attorney-advisor. Contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today if you face a medical student issue at UWI FOMS.

UWI Faculty of Medical Sciences Code of Conduct

UWI FOMS students have access to a document entitled “Regulations & Syllabuses,” a comprehensive outline of the university's expectations and procedures. Topics such as academic integrity and professional competency may be of particular note to you.

When it comes to academic honesty, UWI FOMS regulations clearly prohibit “unacknowledged and unjustified use of the words, ideas or creations of another, including unjustified unacknowledged quotation and unjustified unattributed borrowing.”

The university generally categorizes academic dishonesty into two tiers:

  1. Level 1 plagiarism, which may be an unintentional (or potentially unintentional) act that qualifies as academic misconduct
  2. Level 2 plagiarism, which refers to more intentional acts of academic dishonesty

The professor generally deals directly with cases of alleged Level 1 plagiarism. When someone alleges Level 2 plagiarism, the professor shall report the allegation to the Dean or Head of Department. The matter may then proceed to the UWI FOMS Campus Committee on Examinations. We will elaborate more on this process under the “Dismissal” section.

Remediation

Poor academic performance could require you to retake examinations or entire courses. Repetition of a course or exam is generally known as remediation.

If a professor, Department Director, or Department Head has “dissatisfaction with the work of a student,” then that person will report the matter to the Dean and the UWI FOMS Faculty Board. Upon reviewing the case, the student may be ordered to retake an examination or course.

Students who display “general weakness” in academic performance may be required to complete their entire first year. Medical students should generally avoid repeating examinations, courses, and entire academic years when they can appeal a grade or file a grievance. Remediation could be detrimental because:

  • Your academic record will show that you had to repeat academic coursework
  • Residency programs and future employers may view remediation as a negative feature of your academic record
  • Remediation may cast doubt upon your competence as a medical professional

Terms like “general weakness” provide UWI FOMS broad leeway to order remediation. The term is subjective, and a competent attorney-advisor may successfully argue that there are not sufficient grounds for you to repeat coursework.

While remediation is a process to avoid, it is not the harshest penalty you may experience because of academic underperformance.

Dismissal

UWI FOMS cites academic performance as possible grounds for dismissal. Section 6 of its Undergraduate Regulations and Syllabuses document notes that the university may withdraw a student if:

  • The Academic Board determines that the student is not academically qualified to continue their education, or:
  • The student does not complete their degree program within the required period of time

Alleged academic misconduct may also lead to dismissal. You could face dismissal if the university finds that you committed Level 2 plagiarism, or you exhibit “conduct which is deemed to pose a serious risk to patients, Faculty, fellow students or the general public.”

Hearing and Appeals

As a general rule, students who face possible suspension or dismissal must appeal. Such serious sanctions could—this is not hyperbole—compromise the goals that you have in the medical field. This is true for any medical student but may be especially true for those studying in the Caribbean.

UWI's Code of Principles and Responsibilities for Students explains that a designated university Disciplinary Committee will handle any case involving possible suspension or dismissal. You are entitled to legal representation throughout the disciplinary process.

The Disciplinary Committee will include a Chairman, two “members of staff,” and two students. Only a Chairman, staff member, and student must be present to proceed with your hearing.

The Principal of your academic program has the right to impose sanctions unilaterally before a hearing occurs. The Principal may also recommend suspension or dismissal to an Academic Board overseeing your case. However, if you request a hearing by Disciplinary Committee and receive approval, then you may:

  • Receive notice of hearing to be held within 21 or 28 days of the Disciplinary Committee's appointment (depending on specific circumstances)
  • Have a chance to defend yourself against charges of misconduct or academic underperformance at the time of your hearing
  • Receive a written summary of the Disciplinary Committee's decision following the hearing

Remember that you have the right to an attorney-advisor before, during, and after this hearing. If the hearing outcome is not in your favor, then you have 21 days to appeal the Committee's ruling. You may first appeal to a designated Academic Board. You may then file a secondary appeal with an Appeal Committee of the Senate if necessary.

Hiring a Qualified Attorney-Advisor

Medical schools in the Caribbean, including UWI FOMS, pose unique challenges to students. From uneven grading and disciplinary standards to issues obtaining admittance to residency programs, you may have to overcome obstacles that other medical students do not.

You cannot afford to have academic blemishes or disciplinary demerits on your record, let alone a suspension or dismissal. If you are facing any potential discipline or remediation, let attorney Joseph D. Lento be your experienced advocate.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm will research your case and provide the defense that you deserve. Call us today at 888-535-3686 or contact us online here.

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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 our offices today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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