Matching with a medical residency program in Virginia can be one of the most exciting moments of your life. It's the phase of your career where you can learn from practicing physicians and their patients, all of whom will play a role in holding you accountable to specific and high professional standards.
On top of that oversight, you'll be grinding it out for 80 hours a week with little to no personal life. Under that kind of pressure, mistakes can happen. Yet society—not to mention ethics boards—hold doctors to a higher standard; indeed, you are regarded as being in a position of public trust.
Dismissal From Virginia Medical Residency Programs
Some missteps can keep you from finishing your residency in a successful fashion, threatening your professional future. Virginia is a large state that is home to renowned medical institutions, making it a magnet for potential candidates for residency spots and thus highly competitive. Getting in is hard enough, so you'll want to do everything you can to keep your spot secure.
Whether you've just started into the residency phase or are nearing completion, the weight of responsibility and thus the element of risk grows heavier as you progress.
You'll be scrutinized on both personal and professional behavior and on how you adhere to the many rules imposed upon you. A mistake in any area can derail your participation in the program and potentially lead to dismissal. Multiple violations, chronic underperformance, or what authorities consider serious mistakes increase this risk.
Medical Ethics and Personal and Professional Conduct
While in most jobs, mistakes are tolerated initially, and mishaps don't interfere with the offender's personal privacy, the medical profession sets itself apart in the level of expectation for both personal and on-the-job behavior. Most all infractions will stay permanently on your record and follow you through your career.
In addition to the training that residency programs provide in this regard, the American Medical Association (AMA) also sets out guidance in the form of the national codification of medical ethics, which is intended to improve public health and quality of care.
The AMA considers the following examples of violations:
- Ongoing failure to manage the stress that leads to medical errors and documented conflict with colleagues
- Reckless use of social media
- Documented allegations of sexual misconduct
- Accepting bribes and/or kickbacks
- Discriminatory behavior based on ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, religion, or race
- Conflicts of interest in the context of patient care
- Substance misuse or intoxication while on the job
- Criminal charges including DUI or assault
- Unlawful procurement of controlled substances from the residency site
Anything along these lines can swiftly lead to sanctions or dismissal, turning a resident's career and life upside down.
Core Competencies in the Medical Field
Key to any resident's success in a teaching hospital is a mastery of the key competencies set out by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME):
- Patient care. All medical residents are required to provide care that is compassionate and of high quality, treating patients' health issues in a relevant, appropriate, and effective fashion.
- Medical knowledge. A residents' education in biomedical and clinical knowledge goes far beyond academics and must also be applied in the care of patients.
- Practice-based learning and improvement. To prepare for the rigors of the medical profession, it's essential for residents to constantly work to improve their clinical skills. This involves ongoing introspection, self-evaluation of performance, and striving to enhance proficiency.
- Interpersonal and communication skills. In the course of a day, a physician will speak with a range of people, including patients, other doctors, medical staff, administrators, and professionals who support your practice. Being a strong communicator reduces the risk of medical mistakes and makes you a collaborative and effective colleague.
- Professionalism. Strict adherence to ethical principles and being sensitive to the needs of patients and colleagues indicates a commitment to being professional and responsible. Any violation of these principles has the potential to jeopardize a residency.
- Systems-based practice. Residents are required to show an understanding and competency in the healthcare systems used both in the Commonwealth of Virginia and nationwide.
Every medical residency program must have a formal, written policy for ethics and professionalism, as well as a mechanism for enforcing compliance. From a legal standpoint, academic institutions are largely responsible for their own disciplinary actions, as long as they adhere to their stated protocol.
The disciplinary action—ranging from a verbal or written reprimand to outright dismissal—is typically proportional to the seriousness of the infraction. A formal sanction of any kind can impact your career, even if you complete your residency.
Doctors in Virginia must disclose any disciplinary actions against them during their time as residents. A serious violation may be an obstacle to getting or keeping a medical license.
Don't Try To Go It Alone
Many residents assume they can appear on their own before a disciplinary body but doing so rarely achieves a favorable outcome. More often, this course of action can lead to devastating consequences for a medical career.
Why Hire an Attorney-Advisor?
No matter what point you've reached in your residency, if you aspire to a medical career, it's critical to keep major transgressions off your record. You can be extremely careful and still make all-too-human mistakes.
A big step in preserving your reputation and career prospects can be hiring an expert who can help navigate the process and understands how disciplinary boards work.
Attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and his team work together with medical residents across the U.S. as they face sanctions, dealing effectively with hospital administrators and in-house lawyers. The office has years of experience in finding paths to resolution and opportunities to save a career.
Don't let one misstep cut your tenure short. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 or complete an online form through our secure portal for more information.