Dec 26, 2013
2
0
Status
Other Health Professions Student
Hi. I was recently convicted of academic dishonesty and dismissed from the university. However, the dean has given me a chance to present my case.


I do not wish to contest the charges. I made a mistake. I wish to apologize and humbly request for a second chance. Please read my letter and give me your feedback.


Thank you so much.




Dear ********


I, ********, am writing this letter to appeal my dismissal from the physician assistant program at ******** University. I was extremely distressed when I received a call from the program director, ********, on ******** informing me of the academic committee’s recommendation. I would like to urge you to reconsider this recommendation for the following reasons.


I admit I have made a grave mistake. And I understand the importance of the violated policies in maintaining a high standard of education. I assure you that my actions were not conscientious or maliciously motivated; they resulted from a momentary lapse in my judgment. I had a really rough time last semester and, while I do not blame anyone but myself, I am so grateful to you for giving me a chance to explain my situation.


While getting into the highly competitive ******** University Physician Assistant program was a dream come true for me, my conservative Hindu family had other plans. My marriage was decided to take place immediately upon graduation from *******; I knew how difficult it would be to pursue further education after this arrangement. I begged and pleaded to delay the ceremony with the promise that, when I completed the program, I will go through it without any hesitation. My parents reluctantly approved; but it was still a daily struggle to ask for tuition payments or time to study. Despite these issues, I remained persistently focused and managed to do extremely well during my 21 months here at ******** University. I looked forward to nothing else except graduating within the next 6 months and embarking on a dedicated career towards the well being of my patients.


As unfortunate circumstance would have it, however, everything was destroyed about five months ago – my engagement broke off. The other family slandered my reputation, questioned my parent’s upbringing and severely disgraced my family in front of the entire community. I was to immediately return to India and marry a new suitor whom I had never even seen. Attending rotations was a long shot; I had to put up a ridiculous fight over the past months to just be allowed to stay in the country. I exhausted every possible option: I was rejected for personal loans, my INS file was entirely under my mom’s name, and I was simply unable to physically travel to my rotation site.


Looking back now, I realize that I never pursued an option that was probably the most evident of all – to contact the school. I wanted to share what I was going through; I wanted to seek help. But personal shame and the unbearable fear of dismissal rendered by reasoning useless. I kept managing to do as much as I could (passing exams, submitting EOR papers, working on my capstone project, etc.), but I failed at the most obvious. In midst of this stress, I ended up missing 20 days over two months. Further, in a confused, delusional, momentous and extremely stupid decision, I submitted incorrect evaluations rather than confronting my preceptors about the problem. Even as a fully conscious grown adult, I was paralyzed by my silence. I assure you: if there is one thing I have learned, it is that I will never let this happen again.


On ********, ******** briefly called me to schedule a meeting the next day. No further information was provided. Confused and unprepared, I met with ********, ******** and ******** who mentioned the student handbook that stated: “3 unexcused absences may result in dismissal from the program.” I panicked. The meeting resulted in sanctions that I make up the missing hours, sustain 2 unexcused absences on my record and be kept under academic probation.


I met with my site coordinator, ********, and, for the very first time, shared the problems I had been going through. He was very understanding and generously gave me a chance to complete the rotation, which I did successfully on ********. The academic committee made no further contact with me about the absences or evaluations. On ********, ******** responded to my email with a brief call informing me that I had been dismissed from the program! I was lost, with neither a full understanding of the charges nor an opportunity to present my situation.


I recognize the allegations are extremely serious and I am by no means arguing to be completely let off. Quite the contrary, I acknowledge the necessity of a structured path that incorporates penalization as well as ensuring future adherence to all policies. As you know, the current verdict of dismissal will end my career and, most likely, my chance at an independent life. Instead, in accordance with guidance provided by the ******** University Student Handbook (Page 5 of ********), I request to propose an alternate plan that will help me learn from my mistakes, progress towards my passion as a physician assistant, and develop my life into a valuable exemplar for our community and our nation.


Step 1: Considering the severity of my mistake, I could receive a failing grade and be required to repeat the rotation in question. This would, inevitably, also delay my graduation.


Step 2: To ensure no further inconsistencies take place here at ******** University, I could be kept on academic probation until graduation and do all my rotations locally.


Step 3: To better prepare for future situations, I could attend weekly counseling sessions with ******** University Counseling/Student Development Center or any recommended psychiatrist.


Step 4: A permanent record could be placed on my transcript, thereby ensuring that I disclose and explain the situation in all future educational / job applications.


The end decision is yours; and I sincerely respect the choice you make. The academic committee has recommended dismissal, possibly because they were unaware of my circumstances and may have felt that my actions were deliberately calculated to take unfair advantage of the system. I assure you that this was not the case. I truly repent my mistake and am humbly requesting a second chance to prove myself. The aforementioned plan would help me better prepare for any similar situation that arises in the future. With this plan, I would now: (Step 1) be fully aware of the repercussions, thereby preventing me from making any rash decisions, (Step 2) realize the urgency in seeking help and immediately inform all necessary authorities, and (Step 3) be equipped with emotional and psychiatric tools to face the situation in a professional and rational manner.


Though I wish these recent events never came to transpire, they have taught me a great deal. Reflecting on the reasons behind academy honesty and other policies like attendance, clinical practicum behavior, and professionalism, I now truly understand that a high quality education is not possible for anyone unless all of us make a conscious effort to strictly adhere to our academic and ethical responsibilities.


I have learnt the importance of notifying all appropriate authorizes and seeking help in a timely manner. While I previously avoided my preceptors, I now make sure to approach everyone involved and send them copies of all email and other professional correspondence. I have also started counseling sessions at my religious center, ********, and met with the director of the ******** University Counseling / Student Development Center. Finally, I have realized the importance of keeping my personal and professional lives separate. I am happy to report that, after many serious conversations convincing them of my hopes and ambitions, they have apologized and are much more willing to give me time to study, provide the required finances for graduation (which they have already deposited in my account for the upcoming semester) and support me through the program. Even if their cooperation dies down, I am now ever more resilient and promise to seek immediate guidance from the distinguished faculty and advisory board members at ******** University.


******** ********: I understand that receiving a high quality education in the field of healthcare is a great privilege. In addition to performing my very best each day at ******** University, I have always aspired to uphold the highest standards of academic and personal integrity possible. Academic dishonesty is not only unethical and a sign of personal failure, it is also self-defeating and hinders the acquisition of clinical and professional skills. I realize that, by engaging in such conduct, I have not only insulted my instructors, who genuinely cared for me and spend hours sharing their knowledge, but also demoralized my hard working, honest classmates and compromised their reputation as well as that of the entire university.


I do not have any excuses for my ill-advised decisions. I apologize for my actions with the utmost sincerity and assure you that they will not repeat again, ever. I apologize not only to the faculty and committee members involved, but also to the entire ******** University Physician Assistant program and to all those who have helped provide me with the best education I could ever hope for. To my loving classmates and all aspiring healthcare professionals – I am remorsefully aware that my actions have hurt our collective morale. I understand I have violated your trust, but I assure you that I will never again infringe on any academic or professional ethics. I plead to you for a second chance to prove that I am worthy to be your colleague.


I love ******** University! Getting accepted here was the best thing that ever happened in my life. And though I have had to fight off family members and numerous age-old cultural beliefs about women, I am fully motivated to pursue my passion of providing the best healthcare for all human beings, regardless of social, immigration or economic status. But none of this is possible without the completion of my education.


I hope you will give me a second chance. Thank you so much for considering this appeal.


With Utmost Sincerity,
 

link2swim06

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Dec 14, 2007
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I don't think they are going to let you off for academic dishonestly. Might be better to start PA school over again at another school.

Skipping days due to family problems is excusable if you were upfront and honest with them initially. Most schools have leaves of absences you can take for these situations.

BUT if you lie about it....
 
OP
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Dec 26, 2013
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Other Health Professions Student
Thank you for your reply. I understand the gravity of what I have done - it was just a stupid mistake. I hope they consider giving me a second chance... With dismissal on my record, I won't be able to get into any other PA or healthcare school.
 
Oct 9, 2013
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Thank you for your reply. I understand the gravity of what I have done - it was just a stupid mistake. I hope they consider giving me a second chance... With dismissal on my record, I won't be able to get into any other PA or healthcare school.
Not necessarily. Should it come to that, there are medical students who've gotten into other medical schools with dismissals on their record (DO schools, in the cases I'm thinking of). Also, they may sympathize with your situation. It isn't over until you get the FINAL word. I'm sorry about your troubles. Just remember, if they give you another chance, never, ever, ever, ever lie about anything in school or in your career. Lying as a healthcare professional is a HUGE deal, rightfully so, and not something that's taken lightly. I wish you the best of luck.
 

Makati2008

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Dec 18, 2008
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As far as your appeal letter it is TOO long! Also as I read this, did you change anything on your EOR evaluations? If so then I don't foresee them letting you back in. As a former PA academic dishonesty is the worst thing to me because how can I trust you with patients if your dishonest about such things especially six months from graduations (and I apologize about your problems but I had several classmates with difficult life/personal situations who made it through or did the right thing and withdrew and restarted later.)
 

primadonna22274

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Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, is going to read your entire letter. My attention span is longer than most and I still skimmed after the first third.
Now, I do like that you outlined specific steps to remedy the grievous error you made.
Lastly, I don't like to advise legal counsel in situations of dismissal, but it is an option if the academic committee rebuffs your appeal without discussion.
I'm a harsh critic particularly for those who **** up their opportunity at such a coveted program spot. That said, if you performed well in all didactic courses, had strong test scores including end-of-rotation exams, and are a worthwhile PA candidate then I might be willing to argue for you to REPEAT THE ENTIRE CLINICAL YEAR, UNDER CLOSE SUPERVISION, ON CAMPUS AND WITH MONTHLY CHECK-INS WITH CLIN ED. At your expense.
And I would only offer such a compromise if I had absolutely no other qualms about your personal ethics and suitability to become a fine practicing PA.
 

pietachok

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Dec 19, 2008
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I realize you come from a very different culture, and so I hesitate to say this b/c it's not politically correct, but to someone from our less-family-centric Western culture, the details dilute the point and make it feel like you're blaming mommy, daddy, and your community. I think it would be better to just state: "I should have temporarily withdrawn to sort out several life stressors, but in fear that I would not be able to continue/resume my education, and unfamiliar to the resources available to me here, I made the poor decision to . . ." How is your legal status in the US as an adult controlled by your mother? (I don't have much understanding of this, but it sounds bizarre). I think that if you point blank stated that you were being put into an arranged marriage against your will that would not allow you to complete your education and that you were threatened by your family upon who you're dependent financially/for legal status in the US/etc., you can say it concisely in a way that everybody reading it would realize was *awful*. Being direct is often more impactful than the diffuse details.

I do not understand what your infraction was. Did you fail to attend rotations and lie about it? I don't understand: "submitted incorrect evaluations, rather than confronting my preceptors". Did you fabricate notes? Did you preceptors do something wrong? Confront makes it sound like the latter -- I think you meant that you didn't approach them for accommodations/help. Understanding what your infraction was may help others figure out a better way to re-frame this, b/c it's unclear what kind of weakness you demonstrated & thus what you need to reassure them about. Did you ever do anything to jeopardize patient care?

As others have stated this is too long.

You don't ever need to point out to a committee that it has the right to do what it wants to do, and I don't think you need to lay out options for them. You can just tell them what steps you're taking already (how you've learned/changed/etc. from those steps and this experience) and say you're willing to do whatever else they require.

There are glaring grammatical errors. I gather English is your second language, but you need to have this proofread to look like you have given it enough attention.

Does your school have a minority affairs office or something similar? If so, you should really discuss this with whatever dean/professor is available there and maybe they can give you insight into how to target a letter to this particular committee. I think that being put into an arranged marriage might be something embarrassing/humiliating to discuss with classmates/faculty amid your difficulties, and you'd probably feel like nobody could understand -- getting that point across could be key to helping them understand why you didn't seek assistance sooner. An advocate who can really remind the committee of the gravity of your challenges could be helpful as they can present this from a more academic and emotionally removed perspective.
 
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fab4fan

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Your letter is in serious need of editing. I had a hard time figuring out what exactly it was you had done in the mix of all those details.

It's never a good choice to lie. The truth, no matter how bad it is, is better than trying to retrace your steps, as I'm sure you have now learned.
 

thefritz

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Oct 28, 2009
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Your letter is in serious need of editing. I had a hard time figuring out what exactly it was you had done in the mix of all those details.
Buried deep, deep within the pages of that letter is a single sentence that suggests, but does not explicitly say, that he was dismissed for academic dishonesty because he missed 20 days and attempted to complete end of course evaluations as if he had been there and hoped no one would notice. But this is not clear, and the rest of the letter reads as if his crime was truancy instead of dishonesty.

Regardless of whether it's a good letter or not (it's not), because it's been posted on the most widely read medical forum in the world, it should not be sent in any recognizable fashion. Doing otherwise lacks any common sense.
 
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IlDestriero

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That was my impression. He was already in trouble for a few unexcused absences, negotiated it back to two unexcused days as part of his probation arrangement with the administration and really missed 20 days, or missed another 20, and apparently lied about it and fabricated evaluations and/or time sheets suggesting he was there when he was not. I think he lied about the number of missed days at the probation meeting because of the incorrect documents he submitted. They thought he missed three or four days and he didn't correct them, hoping they wouldn't find out it was really 20 or more.
He's dead. Done. Even if he somehow got another chance, if I saw that kind of dishonesty problem in his history, I would never hire him to work for me, and I'd probably worry about the school that let him continue on in the program.
It seems like a clear career suicide showing horrendously poor judgement, lack of moral character, and a lack of common sense. That is not compatible for a career in medicine.
The details are irrelevant when the offense is so serious, assuming I understand what he seems to have done. What happens when life takes another giant dump on his dinner plate? He can't be trusted to make sound decisions. Unsound decisions, cutting corners, etc can hurt people, or worse.
Dishonesty ranks up there with gross malpractice, criminal activity, drug abuse, and sexual harassment in what will get you fired immediately for cause in the medical community.
 
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Sep 30, 2013
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That was my impression. He was already in trouble for a few unexcused absences, negotiated it back to two unexcused days as part of his probation arrangement with the administration and really missed 20 days, or missed another 20, and apparently lied about it and fabricated evaluations and/or time sheets suggesting he was there when he was not. I think he lied about the number of missed days at the probation meeting because of the incorrect documents he submitted. They thought he missed three or four days and he didn't correct them, hoping they wouldn't find out it was really 20 or more.
He's dead. Done. Even if he somehow got another chance, if I saw that kind of dishonesty problem in his history, I would never hire him to work for me, and I'd probably worry about the school that let him continue on in the program.
It seems like a clear career suicide showing horrendously poor judgement, lack of moral character, and a lack of common sense. That is not compatible for a career in medicine.
The details are irrelevant when the offense is so serious, assuming I understand what he seems to have done. What happens when life takes another giant dump on his dinner plate? He can't be trusted to make sound decisions. Unsound decisions, cutting corners, etc can hurt people, or worse.
Dishonesty ranks up there with gross malpractice, criminal activity, drug abuse, and sexual harassment in what will get you fired immediately for cause in the medical community.
Completely agree with this.. I've SEEN the flies drop due to situations just like this. It seems to be one of the most common reasons students are disappearing from my program, and it's left me dumbfounded.

However, for the sake of trying, I would shorten the letter significantly to address the key points of the concern.. And just hope they give you another chance.