Medical Student Academic Status, Advancement, & Graduation

The goal of every medical student is to graduate and to achieve the M.D. degree in the minimal amount of time. Successful, timely graduation is dependant upon a medical student's academic status, advancement and eventual graduation. A student's academic status, advancement and graduation are interdependent and are clarified in this document.

Academic Status

There are three types of active academic status for every medical student: academic good standing, academic deficiency and academic probation. Most students are admitted to medical school in academic good standing, which indicates that their academic performance has been satisfactory at the time of admission. Students will continue in this status provided the student performs in a satisfactory or better fashion in all academic work. Academic work will include all courses, clerkships, acting internships, required USMLE Step 1 and 2 examinations, and electives. In the event that a medical student should perform in a less than satisfactory fashion, then the School of Medicine's Student Academic Standing Committee may change a student's academic status to academic probation.

There may be occasions when a student has not completed all of the academic requirements at the conclusion of an academic course of study (course, clerkship, elective, etc.). In this case, the student will receive a temporary Incomplete grade and will have their academic status automatically changed to academic deficiency.

In the event that a student's performance is sufficiently unsatisfactory with little reasonable possibility for the student to remedy their overall academic deficiencies, then the student may be dismissed. The status of dismissed is not considered an active academic status, but a terminal one.

Finally, there are inactive statuses when a student is on a leave of absence from the School of Medicine. Depending on the circumstances, the leave of absence may be voluntary or involuntary.

Assessing Student Academic Performance

The summative assessment of a student's academic performance may include a number of methods of evaluation to include as a minimum, written examinations, oral examinations, direct observation of students, written and/or oral presentations, and professional conduct. Unacceptable or unsatisfactory performance in any of these methods of evaluation may constitute sufficient grounds for an unsatisfactory grade or the consideration of dismissal. The decision to dismiss a student for academic reasons may occur at any time that the student's performance is judged to be sufficiently unsatisfactory and beyond remediation. This dismissal may occur when the student is on any of the active and inactive statuses listed above in the Academic Status section.

Advancement

The medical school curriculum consists of four separate phases of training identified as year one, year two, year three, and year four. In addition to a student's academic status, the student will also be identified by their specific level of training. Advancement from one level of training to the next level requires successful completion for all required academic work at the previous specific level. For advancement to year two, the student must successfully complete all required courses for year one. Some students may enter the School of Medicine with prior academic experiences that will exempt them from a specific course. This exemption can only be provided after that prior academic experience has been reviewed and approved by the course director for the current required course.

Advancement to year three requires successful completion of all required courses during year two and successful completion of the USMLE Step 1 examination. A student may commence a third year clinical clerkship prior to knowledge of their success with the USMLE Step 1 examination, but will not receive any academic credit until the USMLE Step 1 examination has been passed. Academic progression may be halted and the student placed on an involuntary leave of absence, if the student's failed performance on the USMLE Step 1 examination is judged to be sufficiently poor that the School of Medicine determines that independent study is required prior to a subsequent attempt to pass the USMLE examination.

Advancement to year four requires successful completion of all required third year clerkships. A student may commence with a fourth year academic course prior to receiving a passing grade for all third year clerkships, but will not receive academic credit for any fourth year academic work until successful completion all of the year three academic requirements.

Graduation from the School of Medicine requires the successful completion of all required fourth year academic activities including all required acting internships, a minimum number of required electives, the minimum number of approved Scholar's Week activities, the fourth year Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE), and all required components of the USMLE Step 2 examination.

There are specific limitations in terms of time limits to complete the first two years and second two years of medical school, and specific limitations regarding time limits and the number of attempts in passing the USMLE Step Examinations that are addressed in the School of Medicine's policies for each specific area. Students should review the current policies with regard to their individual circumstances.

Appealing Adverse Events

Students may appeal academic decisions of the Student Academic Standing Committee, which may impede or terminate their academic progression in the School of Medicine. The Student Academic Standing Committee will always take into consideration extenuating circumstances that may interfere with a student's optimal performance. Since these extenuating circumstances may involve a sensitive and confidential issue, the committee chair will review these reasons prior to the meeting and determine if they will be reviewed by the full committee.

  • If the extenuating circumstances are not deemed to be confidential, then they are included and considered by the full committee, and any adverse decision will be appealed directly to the Dean.
  • If the extenuating circumstances are determined to be confidential and sensitive, then they are not included in the committee's deliberative process to protect the confidentiality of the student. In this setting, the Committee will render a decision that is subject to appeal within the committee through a faculty appeal panel. This process is outlined below and the faculty appeal panel does not participate or attend the committee session where a decision is rendered.

The Dean will always be the final appeal for all students. Academic probation is not considered a status that will impede or terminate a student's academic progression and is not subject to appeal.

In Cases Where Sensitive or Confidential Extenuating Circumstances Were Excluded from the Committee's Deliberation

When adverse academic decisions have been determined by the Student Academic Standing Committee without the introduction of extenuating circumstances deemed to be confidential and sensitive, the initial committee appeal process is as follows:

  1. When an adverse event occurs in the Promotion and Academic Standing Committee, the student will be notified in writing by the Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education. Each such notice will include:
    1. The student's right to appeal.
    2. Specific instructions for the student to appeal will be included in the letter such as:
      1. The student's intent to appeal must be submitted by written notification;
      2. The student's written notice must be received by a deadline specified by day and time,
      3. The specific location of where to submit the written request to appeal,
      4. And the consequences of missing the deadline (the adverse event becomes final with no further possible appeal).
  2. If the student submits a written request to appeal, a faculty appeal panel will be convened to consider extenuating circumstances that may have precluded the student's optimal academic performance.

  3. The faculty appeal panel will meet with the Senior Associate Dean for Students and the Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education to hear all new evidence submitted by the student, particularly extenuating, non-academic circumstances that were unknown to the Student Academic Standing Committee.
    1. The Senior Associate Dean for Students will represent the student and the Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education will represent the Student Academic Standing Committee.
    2. Only the 3 faculty members will vote on upholding the original adverse decision or to grant the student's appeal.
    3. The outcome will be communicated to the student via surface mail by the Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education.
    4. In the event that the original decision is upheld, the student will be informed in writing that a final appeal may be made, in person, to the Dean.
    5. Specific written instructions for the student to appeal to the Dean include:
      1. Written notification of the student's intent to a final appeal
      2. A deadline for notification specified by day and time.
      3. The location of where to submit the written request to appeal is specified.
      4. And the consequences of missing the deadline (the adverse event becomes final with no further possible appeal).
  4. A final appeal is offered by the Senior Vice President and Dean. The Dean is provided all prior materials used in the original decision-making and the previous appeal process, after which the Dean will meet individually with the student. The Dean's decision will be communicated to the student by certified mail and is final.

In Cases Where Extenuating Circumstances Were Included in the Committee's Deliberation

  1. When an adverse event occurs in the Promotion and Academic Standing Committee, the student will be notified in writing by the Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education. Each such notice will include:
    1. The student's right to appeal.
    2. Specific instructions for the student to appeal will be included in the letter such as:
      1. The student's intent to appeal must be submitted by written notification;
      2. The student's written notice must be received by a deadline specified by day and time,
      3. The specific location of where to submit the written request to appeal,
      4. And the consequences of missing the deadline (the adverse event becomes final with no further possible appeal).
  2. If the student submits a written request to appeal, a final appeal is offered by the Senior Vice President and Dean. The Dean is provided all prior materials used in the original decision-making and any relevant materials, after which the Dean will meet individually with the student. The Dean's decision will be communicated to the student by certified mail and is final.