Tracing its roots back to 1900, the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine is currently the only school in the state that offers an M.D. degree. Today, it sits as part of the 200-acre campus of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City, with an additional Community Medicine branch campus in Tulsa. Hosting an enrollment of 600 students, the OU College of Medicine accepts only 165 students each year out of more than 2000 applicants.
In keeping with the public trust inherent to the medical profession, students at OU College of Medicine are held to high academic and professional standards. Career opportunities for medical students hinge on a stellar and spotless academic record. If that record becomes tarnished by allegations of academic or professional misconduct, it can jeopardize the student's future in medicine. Having an attorney-advisor involved in school disciplinary hearings can go a long way toward helping a student recover their good name and rescue their career.
Academic Integrity and Professionalism Policy
Students at the OU College of Medicine are “expected to hold themselves to the highest standards of ethical and professional conduct.” To that end, in addition to abiding by OU student conduct policies, medical students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with and abiding by the terms of the medical school's “Student Professional Behavior in an Academic Program” policy. Academic progress and professionalism issues are monitored by the Promotions Committee, while other misconduct issues fall under the university's Student Conduct Officer's jurisdiction.
For most offenses of an academic or professional nature, the College of Medicine effectively has a “three-strike” rule. Three violations of professionalism or academic integrity policies may result in probation, suspension, or dismissal. For instances of “egregious unethical or unprofessional behavior,” the offense will be logged permanently in the student's academic record, and the student may face immediate suspension or dismissal.
The rigorous course schedules and high academic standards required by medical schools can be incredibly challenging. It is not uncommon even for the most gifted and dedicated students to fall behind schedule-wise or grade-wise. In such situations, the OU College of Medicine has implemented a system of remediation that allows for “re-evaluation” of specific failed courses, and in some cases repeating the year or being put on academic probation. Remediation can be a costly and time-consuming process, and in some cases, it can be rendered unnecessary through a successful grade appeal. However, if dismissal is the only alternative, remediation may very well save a student's career.
The OU Student Rights and Responsibilities Code defines Expulsion as “exclusion from the University and all campuses governed by the Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma for an indefinite period of time, a record of which remains on file permanently.” At the OU School of Medicine, this is referred to as simply “dismissal.”
Being dismissed from medical school can have devastating consequences for the student's future career in medicine. In addition to the humiliation of dismissal itself and the permanent mark on the student's academic record, the student may now face a compounding set of consequences, including:
- Difficulties with re-enrollment. Given the stringent acceptance policies of most medical schools, it can be challenging to convince a medical school to accept a student that has already been dismissed from another school.
- Loss of progress. It's safe to assume that dismissal effectively erases any academic progress completed thus far. If the student gets re-admitted, he/she will likely have to retake all courses at additional time and expense.
- Student debt challenges. Medical students often take out exorbitant student loans to pay for school, expecting to pay them off with a physician's salary. Dismissal puts the medical career into question, but the debt must still be repaid.
The OU College of Medicine has a more lenient dismissal policy than other medical schools, giving students the right to apply for readmission instead of a permanent separation. However, readmission is at the school's sole discretion on a case-by-case basis, and there are no guarantees.
Before any disciplinary action becomes final, medical students have the right to appeal the decision of the Promotions Committee and/or the Dean. Appeals must be made in writing within 5 days of the decision in order to be considered. A successful appeal may be critical as it is generally considered the last opportunity to save the student's future career in medicine.
Attorney-Advisor for Medical Students
Due to the nature of the field of medicine, medical schools are under constant pressure to maintain high professional standards and uphold an irreproachable reputation. Unfortunately, this pressure often results in a student being unfairly accused, disproportionately punished, and denied due process—all of which can deeply hurt the student's career prospects. If you find yourself accused of academic or professional misconduct, hiring an attorney-advisor gives you a much-needed advantage when navigating your school's disciplinary process. An attorney-advisor can help the student prepare a compelling defense while also holding the school accountable to its own policies, ensuring the accused's due process. In many cases, this added support is enough to produce a positive outcome and save the student's academic record and career.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm has successfully defended thousands of students across the country against unfair academic or professional misconduct allegations. Act now to protect your rights and your future. Call (888) 535-3686 to learn more.