Founded in 1952, the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami is the oldest medical school in Florida. Medical students at this school agree to abide by the highest standards of ethics, professionalism and academic integrity, and concerns or complaints regarding misconduct are fielded primarily by the Office of Student Affairs.
When preparing for a career in medicine, a student's academic and professional reputation are critical to future success, even as a student. A stellar student record can open doors to advancement and opportunity, while conversely, disciplinary marks can limit those options. When accused of any type of misconduct as a student, an experienced attorney-advisor can help ensure the student receives due process during the investigation, review, and when necessary, appeal of the allegations. In many cases, the presence of the attorney can make a significant difference in protecting the student's reputation, and possibly their career.
Code of Honorable and Professional Conduct
In addition to the university-wide Code of Conduct, students at Miller School of Medicine adhere to their own Code of Honorable and Professional Conduct, which can be broken down as follows:
- Professional Integrity—demonstrating respect for colleagues, faculty, patients and the community; and
- Academic Integrity—acting appropriately and honestly, and showing respect in academic settings.
Violations of these ethics are handled internally by the Council for Honorable and Professional Conduct (CHPC), which acts as an accountability body to help encourage ethical conduct among the students. For serious code violations, the CHPC may refer the student for disciplinary action.
Disciplinary Process and Sanctions
Major student conduct violations of the University's Code of Conduct are generally administered by the Student Affairs Office, which may appoint a Disciplinary Hearing Panel to investigate and conduct hearings. If the student is found responsible for misconduct, the resulting sanctions may include disciplinary warnings, disciplinary probation, fines, suspension and/or expulsion. Depending on the severity, the sanctions may remain part of the student's permanent academic record.
Careers in medicine call for a high level of public trust and physicians are expected to excel in skills, knowledge, and professional ethics. To meet these expectations, medical schools tend to maintain intensive academic schedules and stringent requirements—so much so that even the best students may struggle to keep pace.
To help students navigate the challenging academic schedule, Miller School of Medicine provides remedial program assistance for academic shortfalls or issues. Remediation can also be a key to “righting the ship” while demonstrating to the school that the student is aptly qualified for a career in medicine.
If remediation is mandated as a result of unfair grading or incorrect assessments of academic performance, students may sometimes have this requirement removed by successfully challenging their grades. However, in cases where students may be facing dismissal, remediation provides a favorable alternative that may save the student's career.
Dismissal and Expulsion
Repeated academic shortfalls or allegations of professional/academic misconduct may result in dismissal or expulsion. The Miller School of Medicine differentiates between these terms. A student who is dismissed (typically for academic reasons) may apply for readmission from the school. With expulsion, the separation is permanent.
Dismissal or expulsion can be extremely devastating for students seeking a medical career, as well as for their parents who may be funding all or part of their education. It can completely throw the student's career prospects into jeopardy, and the effects may be more far-reaching than one might think. Some possible consequences:
- Difficulty resuming studies. Medical schools are very selective in whom they accept. Being previously dismissed from another program doesn't position a student as a priority candidate. The student may not be able to get back into medical school anytime soon—if at all.
- Academic setbacks. One must assume a dismissal effectively erases all academic progress the student made. If they do manage to re-enroll elsewhere, it may require making up months or years of work already completed—all at additional expense.
- High student debt. If the student took out educational loans to fund medical school, those loans will still need to be repaid even if the student is dismissed. With the prospect of a medical career now dim, the student may find it hard to repay them.
Considering all that is at stake for the student's career, dismissal from medical school should be avoided at all costs, whether by challenges, remediation, etc.
Before any disciplinary decision rendered by the school becomes final, the student has a right to file an appeal and request a review. A well-presented appeal may be the last step before dismissal, and it can quite possibly rescue the student's career. MSM only allows a five-day window for filing appeals, so students wishing to do so should move forward as quickly as possible.
Attorney-Advisor for Medical Students
Medical schools face pressures that are similar to those of their students. Medical students rely on a good reputation and academic record for career advancement, while medical schools rely on a good reputation to continue operations and to help students launch their careers. Under public scrutiny to remain above reproach, sometimes the school disciplinary process hands down unfair or disproportionate sanctions to students without the burden of proof or due process. Having an attorney-advisor in your corner during a disciplinary proceeding can help mitigate this risk in helping to protect your rights and ensure you receive fair treatment throughout the process.
Joseph Lento has experience with medical school disciplinary hearings and can provide helpful advisory support in such matters. Protect your investment and your future. Contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 today for more information.