Wayne State University School of Medicine (WSUSOM) traces its origins back to Detroit College of Medicine, first founded in 1868. Today, after several mergers and name changes, WSUSOM is recognized as a leading institution for research and training with deep ties to the local community. The medical school details its policies for students' ethical, academic and professional conduct in its M.D. Handbook and Policies, including remedies for mistreatment, policy violations, academic performance issues, and more.
As with any medical school, the students at WSUSOM are held to high standards of ethics, excellence, and academic performance. Poor performance can lead to remediation, and disciplinary marks on a student's record may affect their options for positions and career advancement. Hiring a skilled attorney-advisor for representation in disciplinary proceedings can ensure fair treatment of the student and protections against reputational damage.
The WSUSOM takes its commitment to ethical, academic and professional excellence very seriously, and “strives to create a safe and supportive learning environment that reflects the Institution's values: professionalism, respect for individual rights, appreciation of diversity and differences, altruism, compassion and integrity.” Medical students are treated as physicians-in-training and are expected to adhere to the professional and ethical standards of the medical profession. Allegations of mistreatment, academic, behavioral, or professional violations are thoroughly investigated through WSUSOM leadership and the Office of Student Affairs. While minor infractions may be dealt with informally, serious acts of misconduct, such as violations of the Code of Conduct or Professional Responsibility, may result in disciplinary action that may reflect poorly on a student's record, up to and including dismissal.
To ensure the high standards of medical knowledge and public trust required to become a physician, medical students must hold themselves to an exceptionally high academic bar, one that even the finest students sometimes struggle to reach. Repeated or consistent academic shortfalls may result in dismissal by the administration or the Promotions Committee.
In cases where students have difficulties keeping up academically, remediation offers an opportunity to help them get back on track. WSUSOM offers a variety of remediation opportunities for students who fail to reach certain academic benchmarks during the course of education. These remedial programs help ensure medical students gain a true grasp of the principles and practices required for the medical profession. If there are lingering questions or suspicions regarding a student's alleged academic misconduct, remediation could also be presented as an acceptable alternative to dismissal under the right circumstances and with the proper appeals.
Remediation can be both challenging and costly, but in cases where the alternative is dismissal, a remedial activity could save the student's financial investment and their future career.
WSUSOM's MD Handbook and Policy defines dismissal as “a permanent, involuntary removal of a student from medical school.” The school allows for academic dismissal in one of two ways:
- Administrative Dismissal—when a student is dismissed by the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education, generally for failing to meet specific academic benchmarks and/or professionalism standards.
- Dismissal by the Promotions Committee—occurs when the Promotions Committee determines that the student's overall academic and/or professional performance falls below the school's standards.
Consequences of Dismissal
Dismissal is one of the worst developments that can happen in a medical student's career track. Dismissal or expulsion may occur due to extensive academic shortcomings or as a result of accusations of academic or professional misconduct, among other things. Being dismissed from medical school can have far-reaching implications that go well beyond a student's attendance at that particular school. For example:
- The student may be unable to enter another medical school. Given the stringent acceptance standards most medical schools go by, an applicant who has already “failed out” of medical school somewhere else will not likely be seen as a viable candidate. This issue alone could effectively end the student's career.
- The student loses whatever academic progress has been made. Assuming a medical student could re-enroll, expulsion could cost that student years in lost studies that will need to be started from scratch. Even worse if the student earned an undergraduate degree from the same university where their was expelled from medical school, it's not uncommon for the university even to rescind the undergraduate degree.
- The student could walk away with a huge amount of debt. Medical school is expensive, to say the least. Many medical students carry tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of student loans with the expectation that these will be repaid in the course of a professional career. If expulsion dashes that student's chances for a career, the debt must still be repaid.
When a medical student is facing dismissal or other disciplinary action for academic shortfalls or professional misconduct, the appeals process may be the final opportunity to rescue the student's career. Wayne State University provides a 20-day window for students to file appeals with the Dean of Students regarding misconduct cases, and a 30-day window for appealing to the Provost for academic dismissal or grade appeals.
Attorney-Advisor for Medical Students
Disciplinary actions for mistreatment or poor performance can deeply affect the student's future medical career. Medical schools also feel the need to remain competitive and enforce these high standards to preserve their own reputations. As a result, occasionally disciplinary actions may be issued hastily, unfairly, and without proper course, even according to the school's own guidelines. Although a school disciplinary board is not a courtroom, having an attorney-advisor present to protect the student's interests may ensure that the school takes precautions to preserve the highest levels of fairness and remains open to hearing the student's side of the story.
If your medical student career or record is at risk, call the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 today to discuss your options.