Established in 1961, the University of New Mexico School of Medicine (UNM SOM) is the only public university in the state that offers an MD program. UNM SOM has a highly competitive admission rate, and its primary care programs are among the best in the region. Renowned for its diverse student and faculty presence, UNM SOM is the recipient of numerous awards attesting to its educational quality. Today, over 40% of New Mexico's practicing doctors are UNM SOM alumni.
UNM SOM students have multiple responsibilities to juggle, from their clinical training to managing their personal lives. Getting into medical school is no easy feat, and keeping up once enrolled is just as challenging. Unfortunately, some students cannot handle the pressure, making mistakes or lapses in judgment that cost them their placement. Without the help of an attorney advisor, students not only face graduation delays – they risk losing their dream of becoming a doctor altogether.
Professional Conduct Standards
All students attending UNM SOM must abide by the Medical Student Code of Professional Conduct. The code outlines the personal and professional responsibilities of medical students and highlights desirable qualities. Students must also make the following pledge upon matriculation:
“As a medical student member of the biomedical community, I accept responsibility and hold myself to the highest standards of conduct. I will also support my colleagues in upholding these standards, which include professional behavior in academic study, clinical practice and patient care, scholarly endeavors, and other professional activities”.
The Committee on Student Promotions and Evaluation (CSPE) monitors student behavior and academic progress. The CSPE has jurisdiction to enforce “corrective action” and “adverse action” depending on the violation's nature and severity. Adverse actions include repeating all or part of the curriculum, suspension, and permanent dismissal. The Due Process Policy and Procedure describe what violations incur an expulsion, such as failure to meet academic, ethical, and professional expectations.
No medical student applies to a competitive program expecting an expulsion. With the pressure to perform and the stressors of everyday life, however, some find it challenging to keep up. Whether the violation is a mistake or due to a lapse in judgment, students must still have a strong defense strategy to fight harmful allegations.
The advice and guidance of an attorney-advisor are crucial during the process, helping students avoid procedural errors or bias during the investigation process. Moreover, an attorney-advisor helps prevent students from falling victim to baseless allegations, especially with a lack of evidence.
Remediation Policy at UNM SOM
With personal, academic, and societal responsibilities, medical students have to juggle multiple duties at once – placing them under a considerable amount of pressure. For some, the burden becomes unbearable, and their grades suffer as a result.
Medical students cannot progress to the next phase of their programs unless they maintain acceptable grades. Failing students have remediation options to avoid having the failing grade appear on their transcript. However, limitations exist for the remediation process, including the number of times a student may retake an examination.
Students who demonstrate chronic academic underperformance risk expulsion from UNM SOM, leading to more significant problems than retaking a course or test. Remediation isn't an ideal option for most students, but it is the only one that gives them a chance to stay in medical school.
Expulsion from UNM SOM
Permanent dismissal is one of the most devastating events that an aspiring doctor may experience in medical school. UNM SOM, like most other schools, does not take this decision lightly. Expulsion is only for the most severe professional and ethical violations or chronic underperformance. Receiving a dismissal from a medical program due to failing grades is less challenging to manage than a professional violation.
It is easier to find acceptance in another medical school for academic underperformance, especially with a turnaround in performance demonstrated to admissions officers. Other medical schools will most likely reject the application with professional misconduct since they may assume that the applicant is problematic.
Some of the issues that students face upon expulsion include:
- A notice of dismissal on their permanent transcript
- Reputation damage that extends to their personal and professional lives
- Difficulty finding placement in another medical program
- Loss of time, money, and effort if starting a new program
- Financial burdens that place a student thousands of dollars in debt
- For New Mexico residents, students may need to move to another state to find another medical program
- A loss of morale and hope that may discourage students from pursuing a career in medicine
UNM SOM recognizes that such a decision has a permanent effect on a student's career and academic path. Fortunately, students have the right to appeal an expulsion decision at UNM SOM as part of the Due Process Policy and Procedure. Although an appeal does not guarantee the reversal of an expulsion charge, a proper defense strategy increases the likelihood of a favorable case outcome.
Hiring an Attorney-Advisor
Students have the right to grow, make mistakes, and explore their new responsibilities within ethical boundaries. An error or lapse in judgment should not be the end of a medical student's academic progress, especially with a lack of evidence. Committees and panels aren't immune to mistakes, including bias and procedural errors that harm the student's chances of receiving a fair hearing.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento understands the significant pressure that medical students and their families face when academic issues or allegations surface. With the right defense strategy and thorough knowledge of panel procedures, attorney Lento works hard to increase procedural transparency and reduce bias.
If you or a loved one is experiencing academic issues or faces allegations of professional misconduct at UNM SOM, don't wait until the case becomes unmanageable. Attorney Advisor Joseph D. Lento works with students who have academic concerns and those accused of professional misconduct nationwide, helping them reduce the impact of adverse consequences and harmful sanctions. Contact Lento Law Firm today through the online form or call 888-535-3686 for a consultation.