The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences (COMLS) traces its roots back to the Toledo State College of Medicine, first established in 1964. In the years following, it was renamed the Medical College of Ohio, then the Medical University of Ohio, before merging with the University of Toledo in its current form in 2006. Today, the school sits on the university's Health Science Campus in south Toledo, along with its sister hospital, the nationally renowned University of Toledo Medical Center.
For the student of medicine, a flawless academic and professional reputation are everything. Stellar academic performance can open doors for many career opportunities in medicine; conversely, negative or disciplinary marks can limit those opportunities. For any student facing possible disciplinary action for alleged academic or professional misconduct, it's crucial to involve an experienced attorney advisor to help protect the student's rights and to do everything possible to restore academic standing with the school.
Professionalism and Standards of Conduct
Medical students at COMLS are held to high academic and professional standards as outlined in the school's Standards of Conduct policy:
“As physicians-in-training, medical students are held to the
highest standards of professionalism and have a number of professional responsibilities that they are obligated to uphold.”
The Academic Progress Committee monitors students' academic advancements, reviews allegations of academic misconduct and violations of the Standards of Conduct. Serious offenses may be forwarded to the Medical Student Conduct and Ethics Committee for review. If the committee finds the student committed misconduct, it may recommend sanctions that range from a verbal/written warning to suspension or dismissal from the school.
Given the high academic standards and aggressive coursework demands of medical school, it is not unusual even for the most committed students to have trouble keeping pace. For students who fail to meet minimum academic standards, COMLS has a remediation and re-examination policy in place that helps students develop a plan of action and re-take courses or exams. Students who continue to underperform may be referred to the Medical Student Promotions Committee for review.
Remedial work can be time-consuming and costly. If a student has reason to dispute a grade, he/she can often avert remediation with a successful appeal. However, in cases where the only alternative would be academic dismissal from the school, remediation can actually rescue a medical student's career and keep it on track.
When a student faces dismissal from medical school for academic underperformance or academic or professional misconduct, it can throw the student's entire career in jeopardy. Not only must the student face the humiliation of dismissal notated on his/her academic record, but it can create a cascade effect of additional complications. For example:
- The student will have trouble enrolling in another school. Most medical schools are selective in their admissions, and candidates with a prior dismissal are generally not prioritized.
- The student will lose valuable academic ground. Assuming the student manages to re-enroll, it's safe to assume that the student will be starting his/her medical education over from the beginning—at additional expense.
- The student may face overwhelming debt. If the student financed a medical education with student loans, those loans must still be repaid when the student is dismissed—without the benefit of the physician's salary.
For these reasons, any medical student facing possible dismissal should be staunchly committed to finding alternatives to prevent it.
A student has the right to formally appeal any disciplinary decision handed down by the school before it becomes final—including suspension and dismissal. In many cases, filing a successful appeal is the last line of defense to save the student's future career in medicine. COMLS is reasonably generous in their appeals policy compared to other medical schools, allowing a 15-day window for students to appeal in writing to the Dean. Beyond that, the Dean has 45 days to render a decision on the appeal. At the Dean's discretion, an interim suspension may or may not be imposed on the student while the appeal is in progress, allowing the student a possible additional point of negotiation to continue classes during the appeal.
Attorney Advisor for Disciplinary Action
Great expectations are a double-edged sword. Medical schools often thrive academically because there is stiff competition and public pressure to maintain high standards and a flawless reputation. On the other hand, this pressure can sometimes lead to students being wrongfully or disproportionately punished or inadvertently denied due process. Since so much is riding on the medical student's record and reputation, unfair discipline can derail an otherwise promising career. In such cases, the involvement of a skilled attorney advisor can make a huge difference in how the disciplinary process unfolds. In many instances, it can save the student's reputation and career.
Joseph D. Lento has worked in an advisory role to help many medical students navigate the tricky waters of academic issues, disciplinary proceedings, and all school-related concerns. At the first sign of trouble, contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 to discuss your options.