As the oldest medical college west of the Allegheny Mountains, the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine (UCCOM) traces its roots back to the Medical College of Ohio, first established in 1819. Today, hosting an enrollment of over 700 students, the UC College of Medicine is part of the larger collective of colleges and health institutions of the UC Academic Health Center.
Being ranked among the top one-third of medical schools in the country, UCCOM accepts less than four percent of its total number of applicants. The stakes for medical students are high, the course work is grueling, and the academic requirements are stringent. Understandably, a pristine academic record from this school can open doors for many career opportunities in the field of medicine. Conversely, being disciplined for allegations of academic or professional misconduct can have severe repercussions on those career opportunities. For medical students, having an attorney advisor available for disciplinary proceedings can help ensure due process, and in many cases, rescue the student's future career.
Medical Student Honor Code and “Bearcat Bond”
Medical students enrolling in UCCOM are expected to agree to abide by an extensive Honor Code detailing the school's expectations for professional conduct and academic honesty. Also, students are expected to agree to the University's pledge of proper student conduct as summarized in the “Bearcat Bond”:
“As a member of the University of Cincinnati, I will uphold the principles
of a just community and the values of respect, responsibility, and
inclusiveness. I will promote the highest levels of personal and academic
honesty and aspire continuously to better myself, the Bearcat community,
and the world.”
The Performance and Advancement Committee (PAC) reviews students' academic performance as they progress toward a medical degree. Allegations of professional or academic misconduct or other violations of the Student Code of Conduct may be reviewed and investigated by the PAC, the Medical School Honor Council, or the Associate Dean for Student Affairs (ADSD). If a student is found to have violated the Honor Code or Student Code of Conduct, the Honor Council may recommend sanctions to the Dean for approval, which may range from formal reprimands or “Professional Warnings” to suspension or dismissal.
Given the amount of coursework in medical school and the high academic standards required for passing, it can be challenging even for the most gifted or dedicated students to keep up academically. To help keep students on track to meet the stringent qualifications for a career in medicine, UCCOM provides remediation programs for students who fall short academically. These remedial options are tailored to student needs and approved by the Education Program Committee (EPC) and the course director.
Remediation is more than just inconvenient; it is also time-consuming and often expensive. In situations where remediation is prescribed unnecessarily, students may be able to avoid it through successful grade appeals. However, in cases where the student might otherwise face dismissal, remediation can actually serve as a career saver.
For instances of serious or continued academic shortfalls, or in cases of academic or professional misconduct, a medical student may face dismissal from the school. UCCOM recognizes two different types of dismissal:
- Academic disciplinary college dismissal—in which the student is dismissed from the specific college of study (e.g., the College of Medicine) but may remain enrolled or re-enroll in other colleges within the university; and
- Academic disciplinary university dismissal—in which the student is permanently removed from the entire university, without the possibility of re-enrollment.
For either scenario, dismissal can be devastating to a medical student because it puts his/her entire future career prospects into jeopardy. Besides, dismissal can generate a cascading array of difficulties for the student, including:
- Obstacles to re-enrollment. Medical schools are selective in their admissions policies, and a student previously dismissed from another medical school usually won't be considered a high-priority candidate.
- Loss of progress academically. If a student does manage to gain re-admittance to medical school, he/she will most likely start over from the beginning. With a dismissal, previous grades do not transfer.
- Out-of-control student debt. When medical students finance their education through student loans, they generally bank on being able to repay those loans on a physician's income. Dismissal may derail those plans, but the debt must still be repaid, often to the tune of six figures.
Appealing Disciplinary Sanctions
Students facing sanctions for academic or professional misconduct have the right to file a formal appeal before the ruling becomes final. For medical students facing dismissal, the appeals process may constitute the final opportunity to clear their names and save their careers.
UCCOM allows a five-day window for a student to file a formal written appeal with the Senior Associate Dean of Student Affairs. They may call an Appeals Hearing to consider additional evidence and consider whether to reinstate the student. The Dean's decision is final.
Hiring an Attorney-Advisor
Medical Schools face unrelenting public pressure to maintain high academic standards and an irreproachable reputation. While these standards are intended to graduate highly qualified students, they can also, unfortunately, work against some students by unfairly disciplining them, denying them due process, and jeopardizing their career prospects. The involvement of an attorney-advisor can make a huge difference in helping the student take full advantage of due process during disciplinary proceedings, many times resulting in a better outcome that avoids dismissal.
The Lento Law Firm has extensive experience in helping students facing down allegations of academic and professional concerns and also misconduct. Don't let unfair proceedings derail your career—call (888) 535-3686 to discuss your options.