In 1997, Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine – California (TUCOM) was established as the state's second osteopathic medical school program to offer a myriad of graduate-level medical degrees. The private California college boasts its sponsorship of the Touro Student-Run Free Clinic, a no-cost, interprofessional organization staffed by students to improve access to healthcare for Vallejo residents.
The 500-plus enrollees at TUCOM represent part of the 20 percent of U.S. medical students currently working toward a D.O. degree. Like any medical student, those enrolled in TUCOM are held to strict academic and behavioral standards.
A flawless academic record and demonstration of professional standards can open many placement opportunities for medical students. However, even the slightest academic misfortune or ethics violation can limit a student's future pathways when the stakes are high at a prestigious school. Therefore, if you're a TUCOM student handling misconduct allegations, you need to hire an advisor with experience in student rights and medical school discipline issues.
TUCOM Academic and Professionalism Standards
Students at TUCOM must abide by the highest academic and behavioral integrity standards as stated in the Student Code of Rights and Responsibilities and University Catalog. The guidelines establish expectations for D.O. program enrollees inside and outside the classroom.
To remain in good academic standing, TUCOM students must always make forward progress toward graduation. D.O. candidates must:
- Not be on probation and complete all prescribed academic requirements within six weeks of matriculation
- Achieve passing grades in all clinical rotations
- Pass the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX) Levels 1 and Level 2
- Have performed and behaved in a manner that is ethical, professional, and consistent with the practice of osteopathic medicine
- Complied with all legal and financial requirements of the college
Although TUCOM requires students to progress through their studies and clinical requirements at a pre-determined rate, they also have policies prohibiting academic dishonesty. Cheating, plagiarism, research misconduct, and even displaying inappropriate behavior during examination are subject to disciplinary charges.
TUCOM derives its ethical standards from the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) Code of Ethics. The code is the foundation of the professional physician-patient relationship with a mission to support individualized patient care.
The guidelines include but are not limited to prohibitions on:
- Breaches of patient confidentiality
- Gifting medical care or accepting gifts
- Falsification of degree or license
- Irresponsible actions in public
- Lack of scientific competency
- Sexual harassment
The school also has rules and regulations on everything from using the correct title when addressing a superior, acting responsibly with alcohol, and wearing appropriate attire when meeting with patients and taking examinations. Furthermore, behavioral guidelines stretch beyond the classroom as physicians must present themselves as worthy of public trust and may not engage in inappropriate social media activity.
Progression Issues at TUCOM
The Student Promotion Committee (SPC) will evaluate and assess student progress from enrollment to graduation. If a TUCOM student is alleged to have violated the school's progression guidelines, the SPC will conduct an investigation, including a meeting with the student in question. Afterward, the SPC will recommend to the Dean of Students how to manage the misconduct if the student is found responsible.
Remediation is required if students are placed on academic probation due to:
- Failed clerkship
- Failure to complete licensure exams
- Unsatisfactory course grade
Students directed to repeat a year of their curriculum or clinical clerkship will remain on academic probation until successful completion of all courses, including retaken courses, scheduled within that academic year. They must also stay on track to graduate within the maximum allotted timeframe. Moreover, remediating students may not hold any positions within clubs, student organizations, or programs representing TUCOM. Failing reexamination during remediation is grounds for dismissal.
Disciplinary Action at TUCOM
Regarding instances of misconduct, TUCOM manages matters in two ways: an informal resolution method and a formal hearing.
When the Dean of Student Affairs becomes aware of misconduct—academic or behavioral—the accused student will be given written notification of the violation and a request to schedule an appointment to discuss the matter.
Following a short investigation and meeting, the Dean of Student Affairs will render a decision within five school days of the determination and, if necessary, disciplinary action. A formal hearing procedure will commence if the student doesn't accept the decision.
For formal resolutions, the Dean of Student Affairs will notify the accused of the time and place of the hearing, taking place no earlier than three calendar days and no later than ten calendar days after the decision to proceed with the formal method.
The committee hearing will proceed under the following guidelines:
- A closed session will come to order unless both parties agree to an open session.
- Disputes will be made to the committee moderator.
- The complainant (accuser) will present all information supporting the charges against the accused student.
- The accused will make an argument in their defense, including any evidence or witnesses to be presented.
- Each party may make closing statements.
Following the hearing, the committee will deliberate and determine responsibility within seven school days. The Dean of Student Affairs will review the decision and, if accepted, notify the student of the rationale of the committee, sanctions, and chance to appeal.
Sanctions may include:
- Written warning
- Administrative leave of absence
Dismissal From TUCOM
Separation from medical school will derail a student's chance to earn a D.O. degree. Yet, it will also cause long-lasting consequences.
Dismissed students can face any of the following:
- Limited placement opportunities
- Overcoming student debt without a D.O. salary
- Starting a medical degree over from the beginning
- Trouble continuing medical education elsewhere
Hiring Joseph D. Lento as Your TUCOM Advisor
Medical schools face pressure from national accreditation boards and the public to maintain a pristine reputation. Because of this, however, students are often mistreated by a disciplinary board's resolutions.
No medical student should face this dire situation without the help of an experienced student defense advisor. Although TUCOM doesn't allow legal counsel in formal hearings, an advisor can coach you and give you the confidence to provide a coherent argument in your defense.
Joseph D. Lento has years of experience in medical student rights, progression, and remediation matters. He and his team at the Lento Law Firm have helped countless D.O. students remain intact with their studies, even brokering beneficial resolutions on their behalf with a school's Office of General Counsel (OGC).
There is no excuse for a future physician to face remediation, suspension, or dismissal alone. Call the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 to get the extra help you need, or visit the online consultation form.