A medical school with a unique historical legacy, the University of Virginia School of Medicine (UVA SOM) was first established in 1810 by Thomas Jefferson, making it the tenth oldest medical school in the nation. Today, UVA SOM is ranked as the sixth-best facility in America for primary care and consistently ranks among the top medical research institutions.
Medical students naturally have high expectations to live up to, none more so than at UVA SOM. A stellar academic record at this school can open many career doors—and conversely, a record with derogatory marks can have a negative impact on those opportunities. Involving an attorney-advisor to help with disciplinary hearings and other medical school concerns can go a long way toward protecting the student's reputation and career prospects.
University of Virginia Honor System
UVA SOM holds its students to high standards of academic performance, integrity, and professionalism. Students are expected to agree to and abide by an Honor Code drawn up by the University. The code is summarized briefly as follows:
“The cardinal injunction of our system is that students must refrain from Lying, Cheating, and Stealing or face permanent dismissal from the University, and, where applicable, revocation of their University degree.”
General academic progress and professionalism issues within the medical school are generally administered and investigated by the Academic Standards and Achievement Committee (ASAC). The Honor Committee addresses other misconduct issues and Honor Code violations. Significant academic shortfalls and allegations of academic or professional misconduct are looked at with equal seriousness and will be reviewed by the appropriate committee. If such claims are verified, the student may be subject to various disciplinary actions, including academic warnings, probation, suspension, or dismissal. Anything greater than an academic warning will appear as a notation on the student's Medical Student Performance Evaluation.
Course loads at UVA SOM can be particularly demanding, and minimum grades must be maintained to assure advancement. In some cases, even the most committed students may sometimes fall short. To this end, the medical school provides remedial opportunities for the student to resolve academic deficiencies and get back on track. Struggling students may also meet with the Director of Academic Enhancement to discuss strategies for improving performance.
Remediation costs the student extra time and money, and in some cases is isn't necessary. If a student feels a poor grade is unwarranted, they may file a grade appeal, and remediation may be averted if the appeal is successful. However, in many cases, remediation serves as a positive alternative to dismissal.
Continued or significant academic shortfalls may result in dismissal from UVA SOM. So can incidents of serious professional misconduct, if the committee rules against the accused student. Dismissal from UVA is considered permanent, and it may also result in the revocation of a degree, if applicable.
Dismissal from medical school can completely derail the medical student's career plans, and for that reason, it should be averted if at all possible. Dismissal not only jeopardizes the student's future in medicine, but it can also cause an array of compounding problems moving forward, including:
- Uphill battle with re-enrollment. If a student wants to try to re-enroll in medical school elsewhere, he/she may have difficulty due to the stringent acceptance standards of most schools. (A prior dismissal doesn't gain high priority marks.)
- Losing months or years of progress. If the student does manage to re-enroll, it's safe to assume no academic credits toward the medical degree will carry over. The student effectively starts over.
- High student debt. If the student took out student loans to finance his/her education, those debts will still be due even though the student may no longer be able to rely on a physician's salary to repay them.
Students have the right to appeal a disciplinary decision of ASAC before it becomes final. At UVA SOM, the appeals process begins with a formal request to the Associate Dean for Student Affairs, who then appoints an ad hoc Appeals Committee to review the decision. Appeals must be made within 14 days of the ASAC determination to be valid. If ASAC has recommended dismissal, this appeals process effectively represents the last line of defense to rescue their career.
Hiring an Attorney-Advisor
Medical schools are under intense public scrutiny to maintain a reputation that is above reproach. Unfortunately, this pressure often prompts the school to move too aggressively toward what seems to be swift justice regarding academic or professional misconduct or other academic issues or concerns. This frequently results in a student being mistreated, denied due process, or unduly penalized—often to the detriment of their future career. An attorney-advisor can reduce the risks of a negative outcome by helping the student navigate the sometimes-complex school disciplinary process while ensuring the school abides by its own policies to provide due process. In many cases, this added support is enough to resolve any allegations in the student's favor and resolve other concerns and issues unique to medical students or faculty.
Joseph D. Lento has extensive nationwide experience in helping students through challenging disciplinary hearings, appeals, and other medical school issues. Don't risk your future by going it alone. Call the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 to see how we can help.