The University of Michigan Medical School was established in 1850 as the University's first professional school. Today, the school is part of the U-M's expansive Michigan Medicine health center campus in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with an enrollment of more than 2000 medical students. The school is also recognized as a hub for medical research, being ranked consistently among the top medical research schools. As such, the school is quite selective in its admissions, accepting only about 6.4 percent of applicants.
The stakes are high for medical students in general, especially at a prestigious school like the University of Michigan Medical School. A spotless academic record can open many doors for career opportunities in medicine, while, conversely, disciplinary actions can jeopardize those opportunities. Having an attorney advisor to help with disciplinary proceedings can make a huge difference in restoring the student's good name, and quite possibly, his/her career.
The school's expectations for its students regarding academic integrity and professionalism are expressed in its Honor Code, which students are required to agree to. The Honor Code is “is based on the belief that accountability, altruism, compassion, duty, excellence, honesty, and respect for others are traits that are essential to professionalism.” Any act of academic dishonesty or professional misconduct is considered a violation of the Honor Code and potentially subject to disciplinary action. The Competency Committees monitor and review students' academic progress and address questions of academic integrity. Allegations of misconduct may be referred to the Hearing Committee for review and investigation, and ultimately to the Executive Committee for final decisions on discipline.
If disciplinary sanctions are recommended for misconduct or unprofessionalism, these may range from a formal reprimand all the way to suspension or dismissal from the school.
Medical school involves grueling coursework schedules and exacting minimum grade expectations, and sometimes even the most committed students struggle to keep up. Incomplete course work and bad grades can accumulate and cause a student to be subject to academic dismissal. To alleviate this pressure, the University of Michigan Medical School provides remediation options. As deemed necessary, the Competence Committee will work with the student to devise a program of mediation designed to help “right the ship” academically.
Remediation can be time-consuming and costly, and it may not always be the best course of action. If a student believes remediation is unnecessary, he/she may sometimes have it reverted through a successful grade appeal. However, if dismissal is the only alternative, remediation may be a lifeline for the student to rescue his/her career.
In situations of consistently poor academic performance, or of academic or professional misconduct, the student may be subject to dismissal, which the school defines as “permanent removal of a student from registration by the Executive Committee.”
Dismissal from medical school is the worst-case scenario for a medical student because it may permanently derail the student's prospects for a future in medicine. Not only is there the personal humiliation and a derogatory academic record to deal with, but the negative consequences can compound on the student in several ways. For example:
- The student may be unable to re-enroll elsewhere. Most medical schools have stringent admission policies, and a student previously dismissed will not typically be given high priority as a candidate.
- The student loses all academic progress. Assuming a student finds a way to re-enroll, dismissal effectively erases all academic progress thus far—meaning the student has to repeat months or years of courses.
- The student may face struggles with debt. Student loans for medical school frequently accumulate up to and over $100,000, which the student usually intends to repay with a physician's salary. With that future in flux, the student may struggle to repay the debt when it comes due.
A medical student facing academic or professional discipline has the right to appeal the decision of the Executive Committee before sanctions become final. In cases where the sanction is dismissal, this may also be the student's last opportunity to rescue his/her future career opportunities.
At the University of Michigan Medical School, students have five working days to notify the Associate Dean for Medical Student Education of their intent to submit an appeal, followed by formally submitting the appeal in writing as soon as possible afterward. The Executive Committee reviews appeals in a hearing, where the student will be allowed to present their case and provide any new relevant information. Upon review of the appeal, the Executive Committee's decision will be final.
Hiring an Attorney-Advisor
The pressure on medical schools to maintain an irreproachable public presence is constant and intense—which is why so many schools like UM Medical School insist on strict adherence to an Honor Code. Unfortunately, sometimes students become the unwitting victims of this pressure by being subject to disproportionate discipline or being denied due process when allegations are made. Remember—a tarnished academic record can hurt your options for career opportunities, and dismissal from medical school may derail your career altogether. Hiring an attorney advisor to assist you through disciplinary proceedings may be a deciding factor in the outcome, quite possibly rescuing your future in medicine.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento is extremely well-versed in cases involving academic and professionalism concerns, school disciplinary issues, and all school-related concerns, and he can serve as a skilled advisor. Call the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 to learn more.