Medical Blindsided by Institutional Action Email - What should I do?

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Oct 14, 2011
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Today I received an email from my premed counselor titled institutional action saying that I had received a warning and would have to report it to AMCAS. I was about to submit my application today and am completely blindsided. Essentially, I received a warning for cheating. It happened completely accidentally and I did it unknowingly, but at the end of the day, cheating is cheating (I can get into more details if needed). After the professor reported me I met with the student conduct board at the time. I was given 3 options to take a warning in writing, write an essay, and assume blame, meet with a student conduct board, or meet with a professor. I took the first option of the warning because I was told by the office that it would not have to be reported to medical schools and it would not be on my personal permanent record. If I had known this would happen I definitely would've gone in front of a board. This is my email correspondence with the assistant director of the conduct office.

Me:
Sorry, I missed your call. I hope you are doing well. I am currently applying to medical school and wanted to know your office's reporting policy and if there is any place where it is outlined in writing. Back in the fall, I remember you said my warning would not affect med school applications, but I just wanted to confirm with you again before I apply.

Assistant Director:
Not a problem. So that is an internal policy. So our office maintains conduct records for all students who have a case with us. However, we do not report any of their conduct information unless their sanctions rise to the level of disciplinary probation, suspension or dismissal. Since you were given a warning, our office would not report that out to any med school. The only time we would ever report that information out, is if you specifically gave us permission to do so.

Me:
Just to clarify if a school called your office and asked you would not report anything? Also, would the warning count as a form of institutional action or no? Thanks again for the clarification!

Assistant Director:
Yes, that is correct. Since your sanctions did not rise to disciplinary probation, suspension or dismissal we would not report anything. In regards to the institutional action let me clarify with my supervisor.

I have replied back to him 3 times since that email to hear nothing. Is it even worth applying this cycle anymore? Do I hire an attorney? I feel completely deceived by the office and I can't believe my premed counselor would email me about this so last minute. I was about to submit AMCAS today. This even happened in the fall of last year so it's so recent.
Delaying by a day or two isn't going to sink your application. I think it's a bit hasty to get an attorney's opinion until actual harm is done. Keep documenting everything. I'll have to think about how to respond in AMCAS...
 
Jun 11, 2010
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At what point in your schooling did this infraction occur?

What was the nature of the cheating incident?

Is this documented in your transcript? Check with your Registrar.

It does sound like this will have to be reported, despite what you were told. Not all IAs are alike, BTW.
This happened last fall.

Essentially what happened was I made a graph for a prelab assignment with data that was not given to me. A friend had given me a folder with study guides he had made. Unbeknownst to me, inside contained the same excel spreadsheet of data from a previous year. (I later found out the two had file names that only differed by a letter) For this assignment, the entire class was given the same data, but the data varied from year to year. As a result, the graph I made plateaued at 4 rather than 2. The rest of the assignment reflected all of my own work as verified by the Turnitin score.

It is not on my transcript at all. I have double-checked with the registrar and seen my official transcript. However, from my premed advisor's email, it sounds like they will write about this in my committee letter.

Is it still worth applying? I have ok stats (512, 3.85), but nothing exceptional.
 

gyngyn

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You would need to report this:
Institutional Action: Medical schools need to know if you were ever the recipient of any institutional action resulting from unacceptable academic performance or a conduct violation, even if such action did not interrupt your enrollment, require you to withdraw, or does not appear on your official transcripts due to institutional policy or personal petition.
 
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Jun 11, 2010
66,920
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Somewhere west of St. Louis
  1. Non-Student
So to verify, you were a senior when this happened? Did you actually do the work of making the graph, or simply reuse the previous year's graph?

As per gyngyn's comment, you get to explain, but more importantly, you're going to have to own this, especially since this didn't happen when you were a young and immature freshman.
 
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