Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine

First established in 1838, The Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) School of Medicine is the largest and oldest continually operational medical institution in the State of Virginia. After operating for more than 100 years as an independent institution known as the Medical College of Virginia, the school joined with the newly formed Virginia Commonwealth University in 1968. Today, the VCU School of Medicine is one of five schools in the VCU Medical Center, enrolling more than 1000 students in The medical school holds its students accountable to its own code of professionalism and requires the highest levels of ethical accountability for students, faculty, and employees. Investigations of complaints of academic and personal misconduct are handled through the Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity.

Students of medicine must commit to stringent academic and professional standards because having the public's trust is critical to their success. Career advancement often hinges on a student having a pristine academic record with no suggestion of misconduct. Disciplinary actions can reflect badly on a medical student and adversely affect their future opportunities, which is why hiring an attorney-advisor is highly recommended in cases where a student is accused of wrongdoing or when academic performance is questioned.

Honor System and Code of Conduct

The University lists its core values as “accountability, achievement, collaboration, freedom, innovation, service, diversity, and integrity.” These core values form the foundation of the Honor System by which all students agree to abide:

“VCU recognizes that honesty, truth, and integrity are values central to its mission to advance knowledge and student success… Therefore, all members of the university community must conduct themselves in accordance with the highest standards of academic honesty, ethics, and integrity at all times.”

Students at the VCU School of Medicine are sworn to uphold irreproachable academic integrity as outlined in the school's Honor System and to abide by the Student Code of Conduct. Allegations of misconduct that cannot be resolved informally are subject to investigation by the Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity. Procedures for reviewing allegation go through three separate boards:

  • The Student Conduct Board, which determines whether a violation actually took place;
  • The Sanction Review Board, which determines the appropriate penalty if misconduct is established; and
  • The Conduct Appeal Board, which hears and reviews student appeals before punishment is finalized.

Penalties for academic or personal misconduct at VCU are described in a variety of sanctions, which range from censure for mild infractions to probation, restitution, fines, loss of privileges, and other penalties for more significant violations—all the way to suspension and expulsion.

Remedial Solutions

To address academic shortfalls and/or violations, a remediation track can often provide a path to improve medical student performance and reset the student's career trajectory. Remediation may help satisfy stringent academic requirements while restoring confidence in the student's qualifications to pursue a career in medicine.

Remediation

Since a career in medicine is one of public trust, students must adhere to exceptional academic and professional standards. To that end, medical school course schedules and academic responsibilities can be so stringent that even the finest students sometimes struggle to keep up academically—which in turn may make them subject to dismissal. To address academic shortfalls and/or violations, a remediation track can often provide a path to improve medical student performance and reset the student's career trajectory. Remediation may help satisfy stringent academic requirements while restoring confidence in the student's qualifications to pursue a career in medicine.

Occasionally, remedial courses are prescribed erroneously or unfairly by school administrators, and requesting a review of grades and coursework may correct the issue. Remediation can cost additional time and money, but in cases where the only alternative is dismissal, it may save the student's career.

Expulsion and/or Revocation

If a student fails to keep up academically or is accused of academic or professional wrongdoing, the outcome may be expulsion from the school, which is described as “permanent dismissal from the University, administrative withdrawal from classes and loss of all University privileges.” In certain extreme cases, the University may also take Administrative Actions that include revocation of admission or revocation of a degree.

Ramifications of Expulsion

For a medical student, expulsion is one of the worst outcomes possible and should be avoided at all costs. Dismissal can greatly affect a medical student's ability to continue their education and complete their career trajectory, setting off a chain reaction of consequences that may be impossible to overcome. For example:

  • The student may be unable to start over at another school. Medical school admissions are extremely competitive, and schools are far less likely to take a student who has already been dismissed from another institution.
  • The student may have to start from the beginning. Provided that the student can re-enroll, any academic progress achieved will be erased by dismissal. The student will have to re-take those courses at additional expense and time.
  • The student may face insurmountable debt. Many medical students take on tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans with the assumption that they can pay off those loans once they start their careers. Dismissal can derail those plans, but the debts will still be due.

Appealing Disciplinary Action

It is the right of every student to appeal disciplinary decisions made against them by the school, and VCU lays out the processes by which a student may initiate an appeal. Presenting a sound appeal is the last step before the final decision is rendered, and a successful appeal can save the student's career.

Why You Need an Attorney-Advisor

Medical schools face constant pressure to maintain high academic standards alongside a public image that is above reproach. Allegations of ethical, academic, and professional misconduct are taken seriously, and despite efforts to maintain fairness and due process, occasionally a student is hastily or disproportionately sanctioned for misconduct. To preclude an unfortunate or unfair outcome, hiring an attorney-advisor to represent your interests can make a significant difference in preserving your record and your reputation.

Let us help protect your rights in student disciplinary proceedings. Contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 today for more information.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact our offices today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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