Part of the University of Texas System, the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UT Health San Antonio) was first established in 1959. Since that time, it has grown into the largest health sciences university in South Texas, having graduated more than 28,000 students and hosting 3000 students each year. Students at UT Health are held to high scholastic and professional standards in keeping with their chosen profession. The Dean of the school is responsible for managing concerns and reviewing allegations of academic and professional misconduct as outlined in the medical school's Handbook of Operating Procedures.
Medical professionals are responsible to maintain the highest levels of public trust, and that trust begins in medical school. Students must hold themselves to the highest possible standards of academic, ethical, and personal excellence to maximize their career opportunities. Disciplinary actions for misconduct in these areas can have a lasting impact on a student's reputation and career trajectory. Hiring an attorney-advisor in cases of misconduct investigations can make a positive difference in ensuring the student receives fair treatment and the best possible outcome.
Standards of Conduct and Scholastic Integrity
UT Health's Handbook of Operating Procedures summarizes the school's expectations for proper student conduct as follows: “University students are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner, not only in interaction with patients, but also with peers, faculty, and staff of the Health Science Center and the community in general.” The school also details a stringent policy of academic integrity and holds that scholastic misconduct “constitutes serious offenses against the entire academic community.”
The authority to investigate, review, and penalize instances of misconduct lies with the Office of the Dean. For serious allegations that may result in suspension or expulsion, the Dean must appoint a fair and impartial Hearing Officer to oversee a hearing with witnesses. The same applies when the student disputes the allegations made against him/her. Possible sanctions for academic or professional misconduct may range from disciplinary probation and remediation to withholding of grades, denial of degree, suspension, or expulsion.Sanctions remain on the student's academic record permanently, and violations of scholastic dishonesty for at least seven years.
To have a successful career in medicine, physicians are expected to excel in knowledge, skill, and professional ethics at all times. In keeping with these expectations, medical schools maintain intensive academic protocols that even the best students sometimes struggle to meet. Most medical schools integrate remedial options into their programs as a means for students to “right the ship” academically and continue to meet the strict requirements for graduation.
Remediation requires additional time and expense, and in some cases, students may avoid remedial actions by requesting a review of grades and course work. However, remediation can also be an acceptable alternative to dismissal in cases where the student's medical career might otherwise be in jeopardy.
For students who fail to meet the school's tough scholastic standards, or who are believed to have committed academic or professional misconduct, the school may recommend expulsion, often accompanied by a ban on re-admission. Medical students should avoid this outcome if at all possible because the ramifications for their medical career could be far-reaching and extremely damaging.
Expulsion from medical school may be accompanied by a cascade of lingering consequences. For example:
- The student may be effectively blocked from continuing medical education. Dismissal from medical school doesn't look good on a student's record, and given the high admission standards medical schools maintain, it's unlikely the student would be considered a viable candidate with another program.
- The student loses significant academic progress. Assuming the student finds a pathway into another medical school, expulsion effectively erases all academic progress thus far. The student would have to start from the beginning, at additional time and expense.
- The student (and/or parents) lose a substantial financial investment. Medical school, like any other type of education, is an investment. Expulsion effectively negates that investment, and some students and/or parents might face a challenge in re-investing those dollars on a rebooted education track.
- The student may accrue huge amounts of debt with few options for repayment. Most medical students justify taking on huge student loans with the prospect of repayment once they start their medical careers. Dismissal can derail that possibility, but it won't eliminate the debt.
A student has the right to appeal any disciplinary decision before it becomes final. At UT Health San Antonio, students can challenge any allegation of academic misconduct, and they are also given 14 days to lodge an appeal once a decision is rendered. The appeals process is the last step in avoiding damaging sanctions or expulsion, and making a convincing appeal can make a very tangible difference in whether the student will be able to pursue a career in medicine going forward.
Hire an Attorney-Advisor for Misconduct Allegations
Medical schools are held up to high public scrutiny and are under constant pressure to maintain the appearances of integrity and transparency. This pressure may sometimes negatively affect the student accused of misconduct, resulting in harsh or disproportionate penalties or failure to maintain due process. Hiring an experienced attorney in an advisory capacity may provide a helpful buffer against such actions to ensure the student has a fair hearing and that their rights remain duly protected. Contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 today for more information.