Established in 1902, the Wake Forest University School of Medicine (WSFM) enjoys a prestigious reputation by promoting innovation, research integrity, and high-caliber medical programs. With its competitive selection process and rigorous curriculum, WSFM students can choose from multiple career opportunities once they graduate. However, a misconduct charge or professional violation prevents students from graduating on time. If mistakes or misunderstandings happen, students might need to repeat the academic year.
To maintain a level playing field and help promote ethical standards, WSFM has little tolerance for policy violations and poor academic performance. The high standards prepare medical students for a challenging and exciting field where errors can severely impact a patient's life. While the rigidity is understandable, students shouldn't have to pay the price for a misunderstanding or personal issue. Much can go wrong during the hearing and investigation process at WSFM. Without the help of an attorney-advisor, it's more difficult to fight back against harmful allegations threatening a medical student's academic path.
Code of Honor and Professional Conduct
WSFM's Code of honor and professional conduct provides an extensive overview of its administrative policies, behavioral expectations, and accountability standards. Updated annually, the Code lists sanctions for each violation and details the hearings and investigation processes. Within the Code is a pledge for students to:
“state [their] commitment to the principles of honesty, trustworthiness, and responsibility among students, faculty, staff, and patients, as well as to establish a system to promote the practice of these virtues. [The Code] also provides a means to investigate and, if necessary, pass judgment on alleged infractions of the Code. The Code also tasks students with the responsibility for holding themselves and others accountable to its principles”.
Students who violate the honor code receive a written notice informing them of the alleged incident and hearing details. While WSFM permits students to hire an attorney-advisor for assistance, the advisor cannot address the panel. These processes may be intimidating for students, especially if the alleged infarction may incur a permanent dismissal. Having a knowledgeable advisor present boosts students' chances of success, helping them navigate the hearing process with confidence.
Students entering medical school are well-aware of the pressure and course load they must deal with to become doctors. When adding personal obligations and packed schedules to the mix, some students stumble, and even the best performers have difficulty keeping up. Professors and advisors consistently monitor the academic progress of students. Students who fail to meet academic standards and professional conduct standards through benchmarks, clerkships, and rotations must meet with the Clerkship Director and the Associate Dean for MD Program Academic Affairs. The administrators establish a remediation plan for students and establish benchmarks for measuring students' progress.
Students who don't pass remediations could face permanent dismissal from the program. Remediation may seem like a waste of time and adds additional stress and expectations on students. However, these courses are necessary to stay in medical school and not lose the opportunity to graduate.
Permanent dismissal from WSFM's medical program is devastating news for a medical student. Not only will students not receive their degrees, but it will take double the effort to regain their academic footing at another university. Permanent dismissal doesn't just mean starting over; it also means:
- Note on student's permanent record/transcript. WSFM administrators place a note on expelled student transcripts. Students must present their records to other universities if they want to continue their path as future doctors. A dishonorable discharge from the university makes it challenging to maintain a positive reputation.
- Rejection from other medical programs. Medical schools are some of the most competitive institutions in the US, and their acceptance rates are low. When students have a note of expulsion on their transcript, admissions officers may refuse their application in favor of other applicants with a clean record. It may take multiple applications to receive consideration for another program.
- Loss of progress. Expelled students lose all their progress at medical school and will need to start over at another university. Since some medical students specialize in a field, it will take additional years to keep up and start their careers.
- Debilitating debt. Student debt for medical school takes a heavy toll on their financial health and takes years to pay off. Students may have to take on additional loans and pay out-of-pocket expenses that place them further in debt and financial trouble by starting over.
Students facing a dismissal due to their academic performance or code violations can appeal within seven days of receiving the hearing's decision. However, during this period, students may not attend any of their courses or resume academic activity. For misconduct appeals that incur a less-severe sanction than a dismissal, students have 14 days to appeal the hearing's decision and may continue classes. The verbiage and new evidence presented in an appeal can make a difference in the outcome. With the help of a skilled attorney-advisor, students have a better chance of reaching a favorable outcome and reducing harsh sanctions.
Call an Attorney-Advisor
Physicians undergo intense scrutiny if they commit errors on the job because they are in positions of public trust. The ethical framework they operate within starts in medical school. However, a violation shouldn't destroy a student's dreams of becoming a doctor. Although medical schools are scrupulous about whom they admit, they aren't as diligent in giving a student's circumstances fair consideration. Without the presence of an attorney-advisor, procedural errors go unnoticed, and the student pays the price.
Attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento understands how high the stakes are for medical students and the pressure they face to succeed. Professional violations, academic performance, and misconduct incidents have a detrimental impact on students' futures. Yet even an honest mistake or a minor offense can become grounds for harsh sanctions, especially if students don't receive a fair process or proper hearing.
Don't let a medical-school issue or concern cost you years of hard work and expense. Too much is at stake both with respect to your medical education and your future career as a doctor. Call the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 if you receive notice of a hearing for an academic, behavioral, or professional violation, or are facing any issue or concern that can affect your future.