Tracing its roots back more than 200 years, the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) is the fifth-oldest medical school and the first public medical school in the nation. Today, the school still utilizes the historic Davidge Hall built in 1812, but UMSOM has expanded beyond that single building to a total enrollment of 1261 students pursuing various medical degrees.
Since the practice of medicine is built on public trust, everything hinges for medical students on a good reputation and a solid academic record. If a medical student is disciplined or dismissed over allegations of academic or professional misconduct, the impact on that student's career prospects can be devastating. That's why any medical student facing possible disciplinary action should consult with an attorney-advisor who can help protect their rights and preserve their good name.
Code of Professional Conduct
Students at UMSOM are expected to abide by the principles laid out in the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) Code of Professional Conduct, as well as the University's Codes of Academic and Professional Conduct. Academic progress and performance are monitored by the Academic Advancement Committee, while violations of student conduct policies are referred to the Judicial Board for review and investigation. Allegations of academic, professional, or ethical misconduct are taken seriously and are investigated through the school's prescribed disciplinary process. Students who underperform academically or who are found in violation of conduct polices may be subject to sanctions that include probation, suspension, or dismissal.
As is the case with most medical schools, the curriculum and course loads at UMSOM can be extremely demanding—so much so that even the most dedicated students may have trouble keeping pace or maintaining minimally acceptable grades. To that end, UMSOM provides several remedial solutions for struggling students as an alternative to dismissal for academic failure. Recommended remedies may include repeating a school year, retaking a failed course at another medical school, or an individualized Special Placement program for students facing serious academic struggles.
The biggest drawbacks to remediation are the additional time and cost to the student, especially considering the medical school has a six-year window to qualify for graduation. Students who feel remediation has been improperly mandated may be able to get it reversed through a successful grade dispute. However, in cases where the only other alternative is dismissal, remediation can serve as a lifeline to save the student's career.
Dismissal from medical school can be disastrous for a medical student's career and should be averted at all costs, if possible. The consequences can be far-reaching and painful, extending beyond the initial humiliation of dismissal itself to a whole array of compounding problems. These may include any/all of the following:
- Difficulties with re-enrollment. A dismissed medical student who wishes to try again will face an uphill battle. Most medical schools are extremely selective and won't place a high priority on applicants who already have a dismissal on their academic record
- Loss of progress academically. Assuming the student gets past the first hurdle of re-enrollment, a dismissal effectively erases any academic progress completed to date—meaning the student will have to retake all courses from the beginning.
- Financial loss. There are no tuition refunds for students dismissed from medical school.
- Overwhelming student debt. Many medical students take out huge student loans (sometimes totaling $100,000 or more) to pay for medical school, based on the presumption of repaying it with a physician's salary. With dismissal, the physician's salary is now in doubt, but the debt is still owed.
Before any disciplinary action becomes final, the student has the right to file an appeal. At UMSOM, students facing dismissal must immediately withdraw from classes, but they have 14 days to submit a written appeal to the Dean before dismissal is finalized. At that point, the Dean may call an Appeals Committee to hold an Appeals Hearing to review the case. At the hearing, the student may provide additional information not previously considered, as well as letters of support from faculty, staff, and students.
If a student disciplinary process makes it to the appeals stage, it's critical to submit a well-prepared appeal. For the medical student, this may be the final opportunity to rescue his/her career.
Hiring an Attorney-Advisor
Medical schools must walk a fine line between maintaining a flawless public reputation and ensuring due process for students in matters of academic or professional violations. In some cases, the school leans too far toward aggressive pursuit of misconduct allegations, and the accused student may suffer from unfair discipline and a tarnished record as a result, greatly impacting their ability to further their career. An experienced attorney-advisor's involvement can effectively level the playing field, ensuring that the student's due process rights are protected while helping the student prepare his/her best defense against the accusations. Quite often, it's the involvement of the attorney-advisor that brings about a positive outcome.
Joseph D. Lento has successfully helped thousands of students facing school-related issues and concerns and disciplinary action in schools across the country, and he understands how to fight unfair accusations of professional or academic misconduct and of course other concerns unique to medical students. Don't let your dreams of a career in medicine get derailed by an unfair process or unfair charges. Call the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 to see how we can help.