First established in 1946, the University of Washington School of Medicine (UWSOM) is the first public medical school to be established in the Pacific Northwest region. Based in Seattle, WA, the school oversees a network of teaching facilities in 100 locations across five states. US News and World Report ranks UWSOM as tied for 2nd place in the nation for primary care (alongside UC San Francisco). UWSOM has a strict admissions protocol, only accepting 4 percent of applicants. This medical school is also second only to Harvard Medical School in federal funding.
UWSOM's Policy on Professional Conduct outlines the professional and ethical standards expected of medical students and employees, and the University's Office of Community Standards & Student Conduct (CSSC) reviews and investigates complaints of student misconduct.
Nurturing a successful medical career begins in medical school by adhering to the highest levels of academic, professional, and ethical standards. Poor performance in any of these categories can result in disciplinary action and remediation that could reflect badly on a student's personal and professional record, affecting their career options down the road. The involvement of an attorney-advisor in disciplinary hearings can ensure that the student's rights and reputation are preserved while disputes are being resolved.
Policies on Professional and Student Conduct
In addition to abiding by the University of Washington's conduct policies as overseen by Community Standards & Student Conduct, UWSOM students must uphold a strong ethical and professional standard laid out by the medical school's Policy on Professional Conduct, which aims at “demonstrating excellence, respect, integrity, compassion, altruism, and accountability in all endeavors.” While mild infractions may be resolved informally and internally within the medical school, more serious allegations of professional or academic misconduct may be investigated by a Conduct Officer according to procedures laid out by the school.
Misconduct and Sanctions
The University of Washington prescribes a variety of sanctions for confirmed instances of misconduct, depending on their nature and severity. These sanctions may range from disciplinary reprimands, restitution, and probation, to suspension or dismissal.
The medical profession relies heavily on public trust, and those who choose to become physicians must maintain that trust through the highest levels of ethical, professional, and academic excellence. In fact, the academic standards in medical schools are so ambitious that sometimes even the most astute medical students struggle to reach them.
If a student is facing possible dismissal for failing to reach certain academic benchmarks, remediation can provide an excellent solution for restoring the student's academic record. UWSOM, in fact, has integrated a remediation segment into its program to allow all students to master the principles: “Student progress toward mastery is frequently assessed, and students will be notified of their status on an ongoing basis. Students who do not demonstrate mastery will be required to remediate.”
Remediation may cost the student additional time and money, but it can also be an effective alternative to dismissal from medical school, effectively saving the student's reputation as well as their career.
If a medical student at UWSOM fails to perform academically or fails to meet the school's standards for ethical and professional conduct, the result may be dismissal/expulsion from the school. An expulsion permanently revokes the student's standing at the school and can jeopardize their entire career track.
The impacts of dismissal can extend much farther than simply having to leave the medical school program. A student who is dismissed may face the following additional challenges:
- Being hindered from enrolling in another school. Since medical schools already have strict admissions criteria, a student who has recently been dismissed will not likely be prioritized for enrollment.
- Loss of progress. Assuming the student can be accepted at another school, any academic progress will likely be nullified by the dismissal, effectively requiring the student to start over. This may result in months or years of repeated study, all at additional expense. (In extreme cases of misconduct, a school may even rescind the student's prior degrees earned at that school.)
- Overwhelming student debt. Medical school is very expensive, and medical students frequently take on tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans to attend these schools. They justify the cost with the assumption that their medical career will easily cover the debt. A dismissal puts the career plan into jeopardy, but the debt must still be paid.
UWSOM offers numerous opportunities for students to appeal decisions deemed to be unfair or based on incorrect evidence. The medical school gives students the ability to challenge or appeal specific grades that may be hurting their academic record. In addition, students facing sanctions or dismissal have the right to request an Administrative Review within 21 days before the sanctions are finalized.
Attorney-Advisor for Medical Students
Given the ongoing pressure on schools to maintain high levels of excellence in academics and student conduct—not to mention the high standards incumbent to the medical profession itself—any disciplinary action that appears on a student's record could have deep future repercussions for their career. While schools attempt to keep their disciplinary processes fair and above board, occasionally students find themselves disciplined, sanctioned, or even expelled unfairly or without due process. For this reason, it's a smart move to hire an attorney-advisor who is experienced in student misconduct cases to make sure their rights are protected. Contact the office of the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 today for more information.