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lifesaver786

Being told to withdraw from medical school...please help..

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Hello everyone. This is a post about me. 

 

The student is a male medical student who has attended medical school since July 2016. Initially the student had to take a medical leave to go undertreatment for his pulmonary valve replacement as a result of a open heart surgery. As a result the student went on a medical leave on Feb 2017. Upon successful completion of the surgery, the student met with the Associate Dean and Dean of Students on 6/6/2017 to turnover health technical standards forms. Although handicapped parking and seating in class was discussed, no other accommodation was discussed at this time in terms of scheduling in lieu of follow up medical care. The student started the curriculum on July 2017. He did fairly well up until when he was doing double lab days in gross anatomy lab as he had to stand for nearly 7-8 hours a day at a time. Although chairs were available, often times the student found that the chairs were taken up by other students. This prolonged standing led to swelling in the legs and caused him to go see his cardiologist. They increased his medication to get rid of the excess fluid. The student maintained constant communication with various course directors, secretary for the assistant dean in charge of courses, counselors, etc in telling them he is continually traveling 3 hours one way to his specialized care center to his cardiologist. He developed an upper respiratory infection and required continual missing of certain coursework, but worked on catching up. He was given various medications from September 2017 till start of Feb 2018, including promethazine with codeine, oxycodone, and Levaquin (a very potent antibiotic). He disclosed all of this information to the school. He then later developed pleuritis, which is severe pain (muscle) around the part where he had open heart surgery in his chest. He took oxycodone for this. Throughout the course of all this, everything was shifted around and moved forward in many ways. He was given the allowance to complete one course over the summer. However, a particular professor emailed the student one day and in a very condescending tone told the student

“are you aware you are missing this”, then in another email, “now you are missing this, I am adding this to your list”. The secretary for the dean then emailed him saying the course that is ongoing you are to finish it on time with the final exam coming up in 5 days where the previous trend has been they either moved the course to the summer or just pushed things forward. There was no written plan in motion as things were fluid as things kept going forward.

The student called a meeting as he went in with his mother who was taking care with him as well. The assistant dean told the student,

“since you are sick, you should withdraw, and reapply elsewhere near home”.


“You haven’t failed anything yet, but when and if you do, you’d have to go up to student promotions committee (to decide your fate)”.

 

The student requested a meeting with the Dean of Students and the Assistant Dean previously mentioned. In that meeting, the student asked the Assistant Dean what he directly wants the student to do, he said “WITHDRAW”.

 

The Dean of Students who has higher authority allowed the student to do two courses over the summer, with a deadline of May 16 for the missed labs. Furthermore, it was discussed, as the student sought, that if accomodations can be done. It was only now that the administration revealed that a part time schedule could have been allowed. The student wasn’t told this before but the school was well aware of his struggles with the schedule. Its almost as if they withheld information. 

 

The student was finally given the accomodations form and he told the administration he would speak to his physicians. The Assistant Dean told the student, infront his mom that “I will be making your schedule tomorrow, and if you don’t adhere to it, you are done” with his finger flaying and pointing in the air. He even got a bit rude with the mother flaying his arms saying that “if your son wants to be here he has to study”.  Basically something as simple a flu could take him out.

 

The following day the student gets an email from the Assistant Dean detailing the schedule. The schedule made was literally impossible, where the student was taking 4-5 assessments per week essentially setting him up failure. He had all of April and May to work with but frontloaded the schedule during March. This was likely done in an effort to fail him since there was no failure on record as of yet and no legal basis to kick him out. Furthermore, the student activities director emailed the student that he is not eligible to run for any leadership position in student government as the Dean said to focus on academics. The student is a current class senator and was not asked to resign but instead was barred from running for next year. In some ways the student feels it was retaliation.

 

Furthermore, the professor who apparently sparked all this, has asked about the student’s whereabouts and how the student is from his friend. This is against the privacy policy of the school.

The student is distraught and emotionally stressed to the point where he was diagnosed with adjustment disorder and has to take Prozac and is now on a medical leave. The student feels his previous health issue is being used against as a means to kick him out and was not dealt with correctly from September 2017 and not provided the right resources. When the time came, they all came crashing down on him. 

 

Over 200 emails were sent to different school departments, including the Assistant Dean's secretary, the counsolers etc about the ongoing struggles yet no one had the common knowledge to call him in and maybe work on a modified plan. It was only during subsequent meetings it was revealed that accomodations/part time scheduling can be done. 

Here are the primary complaints

 

--The Associate Dean failed to provide a suitable schedule that reflects the student’s prior health issues. The schedule given after meeting with the Dean of Student in a way that sets him up for failure grossing many of his make up lab sessions for the month of March 2018 (May 16 was the agreed deadline for all his labs, the remaining would be during the summer). The student was told “this is the schedule, if you don’t follow this, you are done” with his finger pointed at him infront of the student’s mother.

--The Student was given short notice on his February Course) on it having to be completed on time after the Associate Dean’s office (Secretary) was continually told via emails that he was still on various medications (including Percocet, codeine, promethazine, antibiotics) and taking it “one day at a time”. The office Secretary met with the student only when the student came in voluntarily, but was not told of the need to complete the February course on time.

--The Associate Dean continually used harassing and intimidation factors in verbiage in an effort to coerce the student to withdraw after coming down on him

--The Student Activities Director notified the Student that he is ineligible to run for student government office as Senator as the Dean of Students wants the student focus on academics, a position for next year, and did not ask the student to resign from the current Senator position (possible retaliation after going to speak to the Vice President)

--A professor has asked about the student’s status and whereabounts from a fellow classmate who is common to both the professor and student, even though student had informed professor of ongoing illness

--The Financial Aid office contacted the student on the direction of the Dean to see if the student will be returning back from the medical leave currently on, and if not, the office stated “I can process your withdrawal” and give back 50% of your tuition, this was not the case for the previous medical leave when student left for open heart surgery. The idea of “Withdrawal” is continually being pushed onto student.

--In an effort to find a suitable solution prior to these events, the student had visited many administrative offices including the Associate Dean, Dean of Students, ASPIRE Counseling, and Vice President with no suitable results rendering him in a state of emotional trauma and seek medical attention. Unnecessary emotional stress was exerted as a result of this ongoing effort on the student’s part to find a solution in terms of scheduling.  


I am one of their top students, top 5% of the class, Class Senator, and have done a lot of community volunteer work, yet I cant help but think I am being treated this way. 

 

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In general, under the ADA and other applicable laws, when a student who is a qualified individual (i.e., an individual with a disability who, with or without reasonable accommodation, can perform the essential functions of the position) with known disabilities requests reasonable accommodations, the medical school is required to offer them, but is not required to provide accommodations that are not reasonable, or that would constitute an undue burden or hardship to provide them, or if they would require a fundamental alteration to the institution’s program.

 

Whether any particular requested accommodation is reasonable, or would be an undue burden, or would require a fundamental alteration to the school's program, is a very fact-specific question.

 

If you believe that the accommodations that the school has offered you are not sufficient, and if the school is unwilling to further modify the accommodations (perhaps because the school believes that additional or different accommodations are unreasonable or an undue burden or would require fundamental alterations to their program), you probably would need to consult with a lawyer in your area who handles these sorts of cases to get guidance specific to your case.

 

 

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ADA pretty much comes in secondary to 504 in the education realm. It isn't clear whether you formally requested an accommodation with the school disability support office, or were "winging it" with various professors and advisors as needed. It sounds more like the latter. Either way, the burden is on YOU to request accommodation, not your school to offer a cafeteria of options. Some of these things you could simply do as an adult with a specific need. Get to class early enough to get a chair or politely ask a classmate if you may have theirs as you are feeling ill. No matter which law you are talking about, there is still a limit to what they allow. Your school is not required to change the requirements or eliminate any requirements other students might be held to. The law (which is different for K-12) requires you have access to an education and that accommodations be provided to allow you access to the educational benefits. It does not require modifications to the curriculum or other course requirements. Extra time might be granted, but this is not open ended. If you wanted to go PT, you are the one who needed to inquire about that option. I can't imagine the office secretary has any authority to grant accommodations or approve adjustments to your course schedule.

 

It is in no way illegal, and I have a very difficult time believing it is against school policy for a professor to ask the whereabouts of another student. Discussing their educational progress would be a violation, but, "Where's Bill, is he alright?", would not be. If you were not going to be in class, you should have been contacting the professor ahead of time to let him know that. This is pretty standard across education.

 

While you can bring mom with you, as you are an adult, the school is not required to engage with her any more than any other adult you might bring with you. She might be your caregiver and any decent parent knows their job isn't done when their child turns 18, but she has no say in any of this. If they choose to allow her to participate, her participation is limited.

 

Withdrawing is preferable to failing or dropping out. They are giving you good advice there. If you are struggling as much as it sounds and are one flu away from disaster, it frankly sounds like you need to withdraw and focus on your health.

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6 hours ago, ElleMD said:

ADA pretty much comes in secondary to 504 in the education realm. It isn't clear whether you formally requested an accommodation with the school disability support office, or were "winging it" with various professors and advisors as needed. It sounds more like the latter. Either way, the burden is on YOU to request accommodation, not your school to offer a cafeteria of options. Some of these things you could simply do as an adult with a specific need. Get to class early enough to get a chair or politely ask a classmate if you may have theirs as you are feeling ill. No matter which law you are talking about, there is still a limit to what they allow. Your school is not required to change the requirements or eliminate any requirements other students might be held to. The law (which is different for K-12) requires you have access to an education and that accommodations be provided to allow you access to the educational benefits. It does not require modifications to the curriculum or other course requirements. Extra time might be granted, but this is not open ended. If you wanted to go PT, you are the one who needed to inquire about that option. I can't imagine the office secretary has any authority to grant accommodations or approve adjustments to your course schedule.

 

It is in no way illegal, and I have a very difficult time believing it is against school policy for a professor to ask the whereabouts of another student. Discussing their educational progress would be a violation, but, "Where's Bill, is he alright?", would not be. If you were not going to be in class, you should have been contacting the professor ahead of time to let him know that. This is pretty standard across education.

 

While you can bring mom with you, as you are an adult, the school is not required to engage with her any more than any other adult you might bring with you. She might be your caregiver and any decent parent knows their job isn't done when their child turns 18, but she has no say in any of this. If they choose to allow her to participate, her participation is limited.

 

Withdrawing is preferable to failing or dropping out. They are giving you good advice there. If you are struggling as much as it sounds and are one flu away from disaster, it frankly sounds like you need to withdraw and focus on your health.

I think you didnt see the big picture in all this. 

 

I am well now. In fact I am off the meds. My biggest gripe is, if you were willing to tweak around the schedule before and let it sort of go unchecked, then why did you come so hard all of a sudden. Believe me when I say this, the secretary for the dean did in fact do a few things at her discretion. When I emailed the dean's secretary, I never CC"d the dean, only because I thought she would tell him, but apparently she didnt it seems. 
I sent about 150 emails across a span of 4 months to various professors, counselors, and the secretary for the dean. My point is they were well aware of this. They were well aware of my need to have a chair as well. Ofcourse I can ask but all this shows the overarching theme of how there was simply no communication between their departments.

 

It is btw against my school's policy to speak about a student's whereabouts, etc. Ive read the policy, its actually quite universal. Surprised this isnt known. You are quite literally the first person who told me "this is good advice". No I am not struggling anymore, I was before, but not anymore. The school had options in terms of part time school, if I had known those were viable options I would have done it. 

My mother? Yeh her participation is indeed limited, but that gives no one the right to almost yell at her either or flay their arms while talking to her. 

 

 

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If you are not currently disabled, you are not entitled to any accommodation at all. You are just like any other student and can be held to the exact same standards. They never did have to suggest options to you or discuss your situation among themselves. In fact, they shouldn't have been sharing details of your medical condition with others. You are the one who is responsible for that. "Aware of" does not equal an obligation to do anything.

 

It isn't even completely clear whether 504 applies if this was a temporary situation from which you recovered (no medication or substantial limitations to major life activities).

 

BTW, I currently work in higher ed, and disability compliance is a large part of my job. So yeah, I do know of which I speak. It might be rude to yell at your mom, but that is all. Right or wrong, colleges aren't terribly fond of having parents interfere as the students are adults and at the end of the day, that is their "customer". They aren't any more fond of spouses, girl/boy friends, roommates, or children getting involved because it does complicate the process and that other person is entitled to limited information and doesn't have all the details.

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5 minutes ago, ElleMD said:

If you are not currently disabled, you are not entitled to any accommodation at all. You are just like any other student and can be held to the exact same standards. They never did have to suggest options to you or discuss your situation among themselves. In fact, they shouldn't have been sharing details of your medical condition with others. You are the one who is responsible for that. "Aware of" does not equal an obligation to do anything.

 

It isn't even completely clear whether 504 applies if this was a temporary situation from which you recovered (no medication or substantial limitations to major life activities).

 

BTW, I currently work in higher ed, and disability compliance is a large part of my job. So yeah, I do know of which I speak. It might be rude to yell at your mom, but that is all. Right or wrong, colleges aren't terribly fond of having parents interfere as the students are adults and at the end of the day, that is their "customer". They aren't any more fond of spouses, girl/boy friends, roommates, or children getting involved because it does complicate the process and that other person is entitled to limited information and doesn't have all the details.

Thats great you work in higher education, I am sure you are doing great things, but I also attend my school which has a distinct privacy policy. 

In any case, you are quite literally the first person telling me all this. Ofcourse the school has no obligation since I wasnt deemed disabled at the time, but Ive been told this may be a case where my health situation has been used against me where they were first working with me and then all of a sudden flipped and telling me to withdraw since they dont know what to do and basically "allowed this to roll over" until a point of cornering me. 


Thanks for the input. 

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Fine. They violated their own policy. That does not entitle you to any sort of legal remedy. If there is any remedy at all, it is whatever your school chooses to offer for violations of their internal policies. I have no idea what you expect to be done about this, but any remedy would be in your student handbook or the policies your school has in place.

 

 

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3 minutes ago, ElleMD said:

Fine. They violated their own policy. That does not entitle you to any sort of legal remedy. If there is any remedy at all, it is whatever your school chooses to offer for violations of their internal policies. I have no idea what you expect to be done about this, but any remedy would be in your student handbook or the policies your school has in place.

 

 

I was never asking for any legal remedy, I am not trying to scope out the school for any money. This was just all unfair in how things were dealt and then ontop of this to go from that to "intimidation tactics". The school doesnt have a good reputation with the state anyways, there was a legal discourse in how they mishandled a few cases, in fact the folks in question, are the same people, so its no surprise of their gross mishandling on this matter and then sort of want to then "throw away the trash". 

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13 hours ago, cbg said:

If you're not looking for a legal remedy, then what are you looking for?

 

Serious question.

 

 

9 hours ago, lifesaver786 said:

Serious answer. 

arbitration

 

Arbitration is only a process for dispute resolution and, in general, it is only available when both parties have agreed to use arbitration as a dispute resolution method.  Arbitration is not an end in itself and, accordingly, it is not really the answer to cbg's question.

 

14 hours ago, lifesaver786 said:

I was never asking for any legal remedy, I am not trying to scope out the school for any money.

 

If you are not interested in bringing some sort of claim (whether in court or arbitration) for money damages, what are you interested in?

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8 minutes ago, MiddlePart said:

 

 

 

Arbitration is only a process for dispute resolution and, in general, it is only available when both parties have agreed to use arbitration as a dispute resolution method.  Arbitration is not an end in itself and, accordingly, it is not really the answer to cbg's question.

 

 

If you are not interested in bringing some sort of claim (whether in court or arbitration) for money damages, what are you interested in?

Ive never had to go to a psychiatrist and now I did as recommended by my doctor, I am taking medication for something temporary and hence my medical team has advised me a leave since this entire episode of 3 weeks has really traumatized me. I mean I was literally crying everyday begging them to work with me please. From my perspective, they had no system in place to see that I was have some issues, and that the meeting they had with me at the last minute, should have maybe been done months before if they were so "on it" about not moving things around later on in the schedule. Everything was sort of "alright lets play it by ear" until a particular professor came down to the Assistant Dean and basically called him out on it, so to protect themselves I feel they are doing this.

 

My ask: Let me start where I left off, and I dont have to repay the tuition I would have to restart. I wount file a formal Title 9 complaint or any harassment issues (as that one particular person did use intimidation tactics on me, telling me how I may not get a job). 

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Title IX isn't what you seem to think that it is. It was enacted to address gender equality in schools. Nothing you have mentioned even hints at a Title IX violation.

 

I say this seriously, if you are literally crying everyday you need to seek serious mental health care. Crying and begging everyday for 3 weeks is NOT even in the realm of normal behavior and it certainly isn't going to make them more inclined to try and work with you or believe you have what it takes to be successful. Neither are 400 emails sent to anyone with an email account who might listen. You kind of dug your own grave here. Blaming "them" for not acting sooner or doing more to proactively help you, when legally it is your responsibility to seek any assistance that might be needed (and it still isn't completely clear you were/are entitled to any sort of accommodation under the law), isn't just the straw that broke the camels back, it was a 2 X 4.

 

In order to bargain, both sides need to give and get. Not filing a meritless Title IX charge isn't a concession. You seem to want the school to bend the rules for you in some pretty substantial ways, but there is absolutely no incentive or reason for them to do this. Better would be to approach them calmly and ask what you can do at this point to minimize the impact of a leave of absence. Or, if you intend to try and keep going without first addressing your medical condition, what you need to do to remain in the program.

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1 hour ago, ElleMD said:

Title IX isn't what you seem to think that it is. It was enacted to address gender equality in schools. Nothing you have mentioned even hints at a Title IX violation.

 

I say this seriously, if you are literally crying everyday you need to seek serious mental health care. Crying and begging everyday for 3 weeks is NOT even in the realm of normal behavior and it certainly isn't going to make them more inclined to try and work with you or believe you have what it takes to be successful. Neither are 400 emails sent to anyone with an email account who might listen. You kind of dug your own grave here. Blaming "them" for not acting sooner or doing more to proactively help you, when legally it is your responsibility to seek any assistance that might be needed (and it still isn't completely clear you were/are entitled to any sort of accommodation under the law), isn't just the straw that broke the camels back, it was a 2 X 4.

 

In order to bargain, both sides need to give and get. Not filing a meritless Title IX charge isn't a concession. You seem to want the school to bend the rules for you in some pretty substantial ways, but there is absolutely no incentive or reason for them to do this. Better would be to approach them calmly and ask what you can do at this point to minimize the impact of a leave of absence. Or, if you intend to try and keep going without first addressing your medical condition, what you need to do to remain in the program.

I dont want to give away specifics. This isnt a clear title IX issue, but our title IX coordinator just as in many other higher education institutions handle it. This again is common knowledge. 

Based on your posts to other users, it seems there is always a pretense to blame the person in question. You are quite literally the first and only person telling me this. I spoke to the state's Higher Education commission board member, and they too were alarmed by all this in how this dealt with, in fact I just got off the phone from a lawyer right now who was equally alarmed by all this. 

When you are being intimidated and harassed, maybe you will understand. Until then, I know none of what I am saying will make sense. Yes I am blaming them, for the mere reason that none of them communicated with eachother regarding my updates in how I am doing etc. Is it my responsibility to tell them? Sure, but its also theirs to ensure support for a student through a system which never existed. 

Please re-read my part about the professor breaking a privacy policy, let alone a potential HIPIAA violation since we are considered a medical establishment. 


 

 

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The Title IX coordinator handling something does not make it a Title IX charge. Trust me on this. You also are not even in the ballpark on HIPAA. If you are in medical school, you should at least know the basics. For all your concern about medical privacy you put a lot of blame on others for not sharing even more about your medical condition among themselves and other parties. That actually would be a lot closer to a violation, but not of HIPAA- instead of ADA. You can't on the one hand claim they are violating your privacy and on the other claim they should have been discussing your situation even more than they did. Surely you see the contradiction there.

 

I am sure you can find an attorney willing to be alarmed about just about anything if you are willing to pay them to handle the case. It is possible there are other facts you haven;'t shared but from what you describe, I don't see anything that is a legal violation or which would afford you any sort of remedy. If the attorney thinks there is something there and you are willing to pay them to pursue it, great. If you are asking for advice, you have it. I'm sure if you called the Higher Ed Commission and claimed HIPAA, Title IX, and threats they would be interested the problem is those things do not mean what you seem to think that they do.

 

Even if these violation did occur, the remedy is not a do over at no expense to you. Each of these laws provides recourse of a sort, but none of them provide for what you are seeking.

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I'm gonna be blunt here. 

Elle isn't the only one to whom you are coming across as needing mental health services. Not to mention defensive and unwilling to take any responsibility for anything that's transpired. This is about med school? I wouldn't be comfortable going to a doctor who presents himself as you have presented yourself here. By all means talk to as many lawyers as you like but there are no disability protection laws that require the school to let you do everything you want exactly the way you want to do it regardless of the rules other students have to follow, and that appears to be what you are looking for.

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