Wrongfully Dismissed. Now What?

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Dorsey DO

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Hello,

I was dismissed this past winter from a D.O. school after my first semester. I had failed OMM marginally, but the Committee granted me the remediation exam. The other class in question was clinical skills, as I was supposed to pass the final osce to pass the course. During the final osce, the evaluator said it was a "tough call," and that he would get back to me whether it was P/F. In the event I failed, the syllabus said clearly that I could retake the final osce. There was only 1 stipulation specified to retake the osce, which I met. They gave the retake to other students, but not me. Additionally, I was notified five minutes before the semester ended that I failed the final osce, and the overall course. I tried to see how to appeal the grade and be granted a retake, but it was five minutes before the school closed and the appeal process required 1 business day. Thus, per policy, they said I failed 2 courses, though they were only 1 credit each, which yielded dismissal. Was this right?

I later found out I was the only student in a class of 188 to fail the course for the subjective clinical skills class, which is shady. I never called in sick, retaliated, etc. I just did my job and went home and would like to think I was one of the flock.

I have consulted a lawyer, and he is drafting a letter of reconsideration as I concurrently work in a hospital to showcase that I'm addressing the clinical issues. However, would it even be in my best interest to go back seeing how they treated me before? He hasn't mentioned legally filing anything yet, as he wants to see how the letter of reconsideration will turn out, but do I have a case legally? It said clearly I could retake the final osce and they gave it to others but not me; seems like discrimination, not discretion to me. Overall, what should I do: repeat the year with better clinical skills or pursue legally and move on? I want to do medicine, but it seems like my school has other ideas.

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Honestly, you're pretty much done at this school as you'll have 4 years where they will scrutinize everything until they can kick you out. They will find an excuse to kick you out and you'll have wasted many more years. Having to be perfect and fight multiple legal battles can be a nightmare. The best case scenario here is to push the school into issuing a refund for the semester. You can probably put another lawsuit for the distress they have caused you showcasing that they violated their policies, but it's anyone's guess how much a jury would award you
 
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I don't think anyone here is going to be able to tell you if you have a legal case. It will all depend upon your school's written policies. You mention that the policy says you can take a remediation exam. However, it's also possible that the policy says you can only take the remediation exam for one course per semester or per year -- that's not uncommon. If that's the case, since this would be your second failure you would not get to take a remediation exam.

I do think some clear introspection is needed here. You failed OMM and the clinical skills / OSCE exam. As mentioned, you're the only one who failed the OSCE. One interpretation is that the process wasn't fair and they were out to target you. Another is that your clinical skills were lacking -- the clinical skills course is usually a gimme where all you need to do is learn the basics and you're fine. You mentioned that "my school has other ideas" which is blaming the school for all of this -- when in fact the problem is that you failed two courses in a single semester.

You already have a lawyer, so you're headed down that road. It's possible that the letter from your lawyer will jolt them into giving you another chance. It's also possible it will demonstrate to them that you have little insight into the actual issues and galvanize their concerns. It's possible a lawsuit could get you financial recompense. Or your spot back. It's also possible you will just expend more funds on it and get nothing. The one universal aspect of the legal system is its very slow speed - expect years to resolution if they don't change their mind quickly.
 
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Agree with @NotAProgDirector . There is no way we can say whether you have a case or not, as the details of your student handbook and policies honestly will determine if you have a case.

It is a tough spot to be in. You were already in a DO school (low-tier based on your posting history), which apparently has stringent grading criteria (as is not uncommon for low-tier DO schools). The odds that you could eventually reapply and get back into another US medical school are as close to 0% as possible. It is very likely that your only path to becoming a physician is to get reinstated to your school. OTOH, you could also spend lots of money and time trying to get back in and have nothing to show for it but more debt. So I would consider the caveats raised by @NotAProgDirector , re-examine your school's policies, and decide if it is worth continuing to go down this path vs cutting your losses.
 
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@NotAProgDirector The policy does say only one remediation exam per semester. However the clinical skills retake, from my understanding, is not a remediation exam. It's a built-in 2nd attempt. As we did on prior osces, one had 2 attempts every time. Also, I'm not buying it that I was the only student in the entire class to fail a subjective clinical skills class. There was some BS behind the scenes outside my control. Every classmate I spoke with agreed I was clinically bottom quartile, myself included agree, but something was fishy about being the only one that failed.

Currently working at this hospital, something I couldn't truly do during my pre-req process during an online COVID era, has really given me some insight. I totally agree I would have fallen on my face come clinical time at the rate I was going. This experience has given me a sense of the bigger picture. I just hope the letter of reconsideration reinstates me. If it's going to be a sour relationship going back, maybe they can send me to their twin campus in a different state. Overall, as I've expressed to my lawyer, my priority is to become a doctor. We want to mitigate the situation, and plead another shot, before going down the legal route.
 
I would have to agree with the comments above. Have you passed your other courses without difficulty? This could be a positive in your quest for re admission. Pre clinical can be a big adjustment. DO schools take OP&P very seriously and expect the students to be competent. I think your chances for re admission may be small. Schools don't take student dismissal lightly, and have already explored the handbook and their options before dismissal. They don't want a lengthy expensive process either. You have set the course for your re consideration, and I wish you the best.
 
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the clinical skills retake, from my understanding, is not a remediation exam. It's a built-in 2nd attempt.
As perhaps predicted by others on this thread, ultimately your appeal will come down to whether this is true or not. Many would consider a second attempt at a test a remediation exam.

I wish you the best of luck. Your best strategy at this point is to try to convince them to let you back in based upon your merits first -- new clinical experiences, COVID impacts, etc. Failing that, you try to force them to do so based upon your reading of their policies. As a 4th quartile student failing both clinical courses in your first semester, likely an uphill battle.

Keep us informed, helpful for others who may face similar obstacles.

Not yet mentioned, someone will suggest going to the carib instead. That is likely a profoundly bad idea. Some school will admit you, unlikely to be any of the better ones. Extremely high risk, and the loans will be yours forever.
 
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As perhaps predicted by others on this thread, ultimately your appeal will come down to whether this is true or not. Many would consider a second attempt at a test a remediation exam.
The entire semester, we had two attempts at every osce. It was stated as so for the final osce, so I believed that would occur. But again, it's not like I failed the osce. The evaluator said it was a 50-50 decision, and that he would get back with me, which he never did. They just notified me 5 minutes before the semester ended that I failed altogether. It is what it is...

I understand going back will be sour and inevitably they would try to get me. What typically happens if the school concedes and they know I have the advantage in this? Would they have me sign something, refund my money, and tell me best of luck elsewhere? I don't want the settlement; I want the career.
 
If they told you that your performance was a 50-50 decision, that would mean (to me) that you had a 50% chance of failing. Which they ultimately decided. So it sounds like you failed the OSCE. Telling you this right at the end of the semester, not leaving time for an appeal, etc, is potentially problematic. Again will depend upon the exact details in your student handbook policies. Same with whether a second attempt on an OSCE is just that or remediation, or whether students are allowed to use second attempts more than once. And it's also possible that the policies may be poorly or vaguely worded which will complicate matters and require a lawsuit to sort out -- much like the oxford comma drama.

If you can get the school to admit fault here -- either just by pressuring them with the threat of legal action or via court order, then any of the above options may be possible. You could get your spot back, or a refund. Or you could get penalties (i.e. lots more money than a refund). Or you could lose and get nothing (and spend money on legal support). All of these are possible. As you state that your career is the most important thing, then your goal should be your spot back. No court can force another school to take you, and no other school is likely to take someone who was dismissed from another school and sued them.
 
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The entire semester, we had two attempts at every osce. It was stated as so for the final osce, so I believed that would occur. But again, it's not like I failed the osce. The evaluator said it was a 50-50 decision, and that he would get back with me, which he never did. They just notified me 5 minutes before the semester ended that I failed altogether. It is what it is...

I understand going back will be sour and inevitably they would try to get me. What typically happens if the school concedes and they know I have the advantage in this? Would they have me sign something, refund my money, and tell me best of luck elsewhere? I don't want the settlement; I want the career.
You have been asking the same question over and over, and multiple people have told you that the answer is "I don't know."

You're going to have to wait and see how the legal process turns out.

The hard truth is that We cannot tell you what you want to hear.
 
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