Academic Status Policies of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

Policy Review History

Faculty Council approved—03/29/2017 (last updated 11/28/2018: see log of updates at end of document)

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1. Introduction

Students admitted to the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (Jacobs School) have demonstrated considerable scholastic achievement. It is expected that they are all capable of mastering the tasks involved in becoming physicians. These encompass, in the words of Sir William Osler, "not a college course, not a medical course, but a life course, for which the work of a few years under teachers is but a preparation."

Medical Education/Training is a full-time occupation, with the expectation that students will engage in full-time study. The standards of the medical profession are high, and the faculty has the responsibility for maintaining these standards and judging the students' performance. While we do not wish to foster improper competition among students, it is important to recognize the accomplishments of those who have done exceptionally well. Likewise, it is equally important to identify students who may have difficulty with the material, so that appropriate measures can be taken to help them meet criteria for success.

Students must acquire a sufficient knowledge of the subject matter in each course/clerkship and they must conduct themselves in a manner befitting a physician. As outlined in the Code of Professional Conduct, certain standards of behavior have always been expected of physicians. Some are explicitly stated in the modification of the Hippocratic Oath recited by first year students at the White Coat Ceremony, third year students at the Student Clinician Ceremony, and fourth year students at graduation, as well as in the Charge of Maimonides. These standards are expected of medical students throughout their four years of study. Honesty, responsibility, humane and ethical conduct, punctuality and attendance, and other professionally appropriate behaviors are emphasized and will be taken into consideration as part of the evaluation and grading process. These qualities are particularly important during parts of the curriculum when students are in contact with patients and with professional colleagues at various levels. Therefore, the faculty in all courses/clerkships require appropriate professional demeanor. Adherence to ethical standards of conduct that define professional integrity and/or competence is part of the student's academic performance.

The academic status policies are intended to guide and facilitate successful completion of the academic program leading to the degree of Doctor of Medicine. The policies described here set forth: criteria for assessment of academic performance; requirements for successful completion of the educational program, promotions and graduation; methods for recognition of academic excellence; criteria for failure and dismissal; procedures for review of students in academic difficulty and remediation; procedures for resolution of grievances and appeals; policies for leave of absence from the School; and policies for participation in elective activities.

2. Recognition of Academic Excellence

The Jacobs School makes many efforts to encourage academic excellence, initiative, creativity and leadership. This commitment is demonstrated by the many Honors and Awards presented to students attaining excellence. Awards to recognize exceptional performance are given by the Jacobs School, individual academic departments, corporations, private individuals, foundations, and community organizations. A complete listing of these awards is given in The Student Handbook. The awards are presented at graduation for seniors and special awards ceremonies for second and third year students.

2.1. Dean's Letter of Commendation

2.1.1. Eligibility for a Letter of Commendation

Upon completion of each academic year, students who have demonstrated academic excellence in required courses/clerkships receive a Letter of Commendation from the Dean. In Year 1 and Year 2, students receiving Honors grades in 75% of their courses or accruing 75% of possible Honors points receive a Dean's Letter of Commendation. In Year 3, achieving 5 Honors or 4 Honors and 2 High Satisfactory grades in core clerkships will lead to the awarding of a Letter of Commendation. Students who receive an Unsatisfactory grade during an academic year will not receive a Dean's Letter of Commendation in that year.

2.1.2. Calculation of Honors Points

Honors points will be calculated by awarding 2 points per credit for an Honors grade and 1 point per credit for a High Satisfactory grade. The credit hours used in calculation of honors points (which will also be used to calculate class rank and quintile) are listed in the table below:

Course Number Course Title Credit Hours
ANA 500 Gross Human Anatomy 8
IDM 520 Clinical Practice of Medicine (CPM-1) - Fall 5
IDM 521 Clinical Practice ofg Medicine (CPM-1) - Spring 5
IMC 500 Medicine and Society 2
IMC 502 Fundamentals 1: Molecules, Cells, and Molecular Genetics 6
IMC 504 Fundamentals 2: Metabolism, Human Genetics, and Principles of Pharmacology 6
IMC 510 Integrated Study of the Gastrointestinal System 8
IMC 512 Integrated Study of the Urinary Tract and Renal System 5
IMC 514 Integrated Study of the Musculoskeletal System and Integument 3
IMC 516 Host Defenses and Hematology 7
IDM 620 Clinical Practice of Medicine (CPM-2) - Fall 4
IDM 621 Clinical Practice of Medicine (CPM-2) - Spring
4
IMC 602 The Human Cardiovascular System
9
IMC 604 Lung and Respiration 6
IMC 606/610 Neuroscience and Behavior 13
IMC 612 Endocrine and Reproductive Systems and Life Cycle 11
Clerkship Credit Hours
Family Medicine, Psychiatry, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Pediatrics 6
Medicine and Surgery 8
All other clerkships 4

2.2. Alpha Omega Alpha

Alpha Omega Alpha is the National Honor Society in medicine. Students are nominated at the Junior and Senior level by an Advisory Committee consisting of AOA faculty, senior AOA members, and members of the Dean's staff. At least two Letters of Commendation from the Dean are generally required for consideration. Selection is based upon overall scholastic excellence and integrity.

2.3. Graduation with Honors

The Jacobs School recognizes students who have consistently attained academic excellence.

2.3.1. Latin Honors

Latin Honors, cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude, are awarded to students who have met the criteria for such awards. The following outlines the criteria for each award:

  1. Cum laude: A student earning 75% of available Honors points in required courses will be considered for cum laude degree honors.
  2. Magna cum laude: A student earning 85% of available Honors points in required courses will be considered for magna cum laude degree honors.
  3. Summa cum laude: A student earning 90% of available Honors points in required courses and completing a thesis will be considered for summa cum laude diploma honors.

2.3.2. Research Honors

Research Honors are awarded at graduation to students who have pursued outstanding research during medical school. Recipients of Research Honors are chosen by the Student Research Committee of the Jacobs School. The criteria used to identify students who qualify for Research Honors includes (1) duration of research activity while in medical school, (2) focus or development of interest, (3) role that student played in research effort and (4) quality of efforts as indicated by publications, presentations and awards related to research effort.

2.3.3. Thesis Honors

Thesis Honors are awarded at graduation to students who have completed a thesis during the fourth year and had the thesis approved by the Thesis Honors Committee of the Jacobs School.

3. Responsibility for Assessment of Academic Performance

3.1. Role of the Course/Clerkship Faculty

It is the responsibility of each course/clerkship Faculty to create learning objectives, performance criteria (in the case of clerkships to include academic and clinical performance), grading procedures, rules governing re-examinations, and details of remedial experiences. In the case of the third year clerkships, the dates of midpoint and final evaluations will be disclosed. At the beginning of each course/clerkship, students shall be provided with this information in writing. Course/clerkship directors will communicate incidents of substandard student academic performance or unprofessional behavior to the Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs (see Oversight of Student Academic and Professional Development (Years 1-4) Chart). Course/clerkship educational activities will be overseen and evaluated by the Faculty Council Medical Curriculum Committee (Curriculum Committee).

Faculty who recognize that they have treated a student for a medical issue must recuse themselves from evaluating or subjectively grading that student. This recusal rule also applies to activities of the Student Progress, Professional Conduct and the Appeals Committees. If the student recognizes that a recusal should take place, they should contact the Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs or the course coordinator BEFORE the course starts, if possible.

3.2. Role of the Curriculum Committee and Subcommittees

The Curriculum Committee will establish curriculum content and structure and the educational goals and competencies of the Jacobs School; evaluate the curriculum; monitor educational outcomes; and formulate and implement curricular policy and academic programs leading to the M.D. or combined M.D./professional-school degree in the Jacobs School to the Faculty Council. The Curriculum Committee will establish grading policies (see Grading Policy). The Curriculum Committee will have two standing subcommittees; the Phase 1 and Phase 2 Committees that will serve as "operations" committees and will be charged with implementing the policies and action items as specified by the Curriculum Committee.

3.3. Role of the Student Progress Committee

Responsibility for formal review of student performance leading to a change in academic or professional status is vested in this committee. The Student Progress Committee will carry out a thorough and timely review of cases in which students do not meet the academic or professional standards as specified by the academic and professional conduct policies of the Jacobs School. Student performance data are under continual review by the Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs.  Whenever a substandard level of performance is noted, the data will be gathered by the Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs, or designee, and referred to the Student Progress Committee for comprehensive review. The Student Progress Committee will refer cases of unprofessional behavior to the Professional Conduct Committee for review and investigation as appropriate, which will report its findings back to the Student Progress Committee for its consideration.  A report of the findings and conclusions of the Student Progress Committee, including any findings of the Professional Conduct Committee, will be forwarded to the Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs who will take the action(s) specified in the Committee’s report.  A student whose academic status may be adversely affected by such action shall be notified (see Procedures for Review of a Student Whose Academic Status may be Adversely Affected by a Student Progress Committee Action) and may petition the Dean of the Jacobs School for an appeal (see Appeals Process). If a committee member is directly involved in a particular case, he/she will be recused from the deliberations of that case. To avoid a conflict of interest the administrative staff of the Office of Medical Education may not serve as a voting member(s) of the Student Progress Committee but can serve as consultant(s) to the Committee.

3.4. Role of the Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs

The Senior Associate Dean Student and Academic Affairs will monitor the Student Progress Database for indications of substandard student academic performance or professional behavior.  The Student Progress Database is a repository of biographical, admissions and course work data, as well as all narrative accounts of progress for each student throughout their matriculation in medical school. When substandard performance is noted, all relevant information will be gathered and referred to the Student Progress Committee for comprehensive review. The Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs is responsible for carrying out the action(s) specified in the report of the Student Progress Committee. In cases of unprofessional behavior, the Senior Associate Dean will inform the Student Progress Committee (see Role of the Student Progress Committee) and the Professional Conduct Committee (see Role of the Professional Conduct Committee) of the final decision concerning the case. The Dean may be petitioned for an appeal to any action taken.  If the Senior Associate Dean is directly involved in a particular case, he/she will be recused from the deliberations of that case.

3.5. Role of the Dean

The Dean has final authority in academic matters pertaining to student academic and professional progress.  The Dean may grant an appeal of actions that may adversely affect a student’s status and may refer the appeal to the Appeals Committee for its review and recommendation. When a request for an appeal is granted, the Dean determines the final outcome, guided by the recommendations of the Appeals Committee.  The Dean or his/her designee will inform the Student Progress Committee, Executive Committee, or the Professional Conduct Committee of all decisions and the reasons for them.

3.6. Role of the Appeals Committee

A student whose academic status may be adversely affected by a Student Progress Committee action or by action of the Dean may appeal the action. The Appeals Committee shall function as an adjudication committee in matters of dismissal and/or grievance. The Dean will convene the Committee (see Appeals Process). The makeup of the committee will be designed to remove the distorting pressure of personality or conflict of interest and will assure equal, dispassionate, responsive and equitable treatment of the nuances and unique qualities of each appeal.  The committee will elect the chairperson. The membership of the committee will be made public each year at the start of the academic year. The committee shall serve for one year or until any matter under consideration is resolved. Faculty and student alternates will substitute for any regular committee member who may be unable to participate in a particular case for any reason including a conflict of interest. A student may challenge any committee member on the basis of a conflict of interest; challenges must be submitted in writing to the Dean within 5 academic days after the Appeals Committee is convened. The Dean or his/her designee will rule on the validity of the challenge within 5 academic days of its receipt. The recommendations of the Appeals Committee will be forwarded to the Dean by the Appeals Committee chairperson within 10 academic days of the final session of the Committee hearing. The recommendations may affirm, overturn or modify the subject being appealed.

3.7. Role of the Professional Conduct Committee

The Professional Conduct Committee helps students develop professional ethics that encourage honesty and integrity in themselves, in their peers, and in medicine as a discipline. The Committee serves as a resource for mediating accusations of breaches of professional conduct.  Cases of academic dishonesty, or other unprofessional behavior shall be reported to the Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs by a course/clerkship director, the Student Progress Committee, a Phase Committee, or an individual faculty member or student. The case will be referred to the Student Progress Committee by the Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs. The Student Progress Committee will refer such cases to the Professional Conduct Committee for review and investigation, which will report its findings back to the Student Progress Committee. The findings of the Student Progress Committee will then be forwarded to the Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs who will take the action(s) specified in the Committee’s report (See Disciplinary Procedures). The Senior Associate Dean will inform the appropriate initiator of the complaint, the Student Progress Committee, and the Professional Conduct Committee of the final decision concerning the case.

3.8. Oversight of Student Academic and Professional Development (Years 1-4) Chart

The chart is a graphic depiction of the oversight of student academic and professional development in years 1 to 4. Course and clerkship student progress reports (grades and narratives), noteworthy events and reports go to the Senior Associate Dean for Medical Curriculum who is responsible for ensuring that the relevant information is entered in the student progress database for review by the Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs. The Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs reports substandard student performance and any reports of unprofessional behavior by students to the Student Progress Committee. Cases of unprofessional behavior are referred to the Professional Conduct Committee which reports findings back to the Student Progress Committee. A report of the findings and conclusions of the Student Progress Committee will be forwarded to the Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs who will take the action(s) specified in the Committee’s report. A student may appeal any action to the Dean. When a request for an appeal is granted, the Dean may refer the appeal to the Appeals Committee, which reports recommendations to the Dean.

4. Grading Policy

The Curriculum Committee shall determine grading policy of the Phase 1 and Phase 2 courses. The criteria for grading at each level shall be applied uniformly within each course. The Grading Scale, requirements for Latin Honors, and procedures for remediation are contained within the Course Book.

5. Examination Policy

Students will be expected to sit for examinations as scheduled. Exceptions may be made for illness or extraordinary personal circumstances. It will be the responsibility of the student (unless impossible) to inform the course/clerkship director before the scheduled examination date in order to be allowed to sit for a make-up examination. Documentation of the extenuating circumstances is required. The structure, content, and timing of the make-up examination are at the discretion of the course/clerkship director.

If the extraordinary personal circumstance is a disability, requests for accommodation (e.g., time-limited examination accommodations) will be considered in accordance with the University at Buffalo-SUNY Reasonable Accommodation Policy. Students requesting accommodations based on disability should contact the Office of Accessibility Resources, 60 Capen Hall. The Office of Accessibility Resources will evaluate each case on an individual basis to determine if an accommodation is appropriate and the nature of the accommodation to be provided.  Once certified for accommodation, the student must inform the appropriate course/clerkship directors.

Students arriving late for an examination may be seated at the discretion of the course/clerkship director. In no case will a student arriving late be seated for the examination if any other student has completed the test or left the examining room.

Unexcused failure to sit for a scheduled examination will result in a 0 (zero) grade being recorded for that examination in the student’s record.

6. Promotion

6.1. Promotion Years 1 and 2 (Phase 1)

6.1.1. Eligibility for Promotion

Students must pass all Phase 1 courses before entering Year 3. A student who has satisfactorily completed all courses and requirements and demonstrated appropriate professional behavior is eligible to proceed to the next academic year. All Phase 1 courses must be passed before sitting for the Step 1 United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). Additionally, promotion from Year 2 to Year 3 requires the student to pass Step 1 of the USMLE and the Year 2 Clinical Competency Examination.

6.1.2. Promotion Timeline

Phase 1 must be completed within 36 months, exclusive of any official leave of absence. Failure to do so will result in a recommendation for dismissal from the Jacobs School.

Passage of Step 1 of the USMLE is required for promotion to the third year. Students are required to take the Step 1 Examination sufficiently in advance of the Year 3 start date to allow for a score to be recorded. The specific date by which students must have sat for the Step 1 Examination will be disseminated each year by the Office of Medical Education. No more than three attempts are allowed and the Step 1 Examination shall be completed in one academic year exclusive of official (non-study) leaves of absence.

6.1.3. Students Who Have Difficulty in Years 1 and 2

The following provisions provide the basis for decisions concerning the academic status of students who have difficulty in Years 1 and 2. These provisions are designed to assist the Student Progress Committee to proceed in a consistent, equitable and constructive fashion when considering the academic status of students. A student's academic background, professional behavior, health and personal circumstances shall be considered carefully by the Student Progress Committee in its evaluation of academic performance. A failure for students in Years 1 and 2 shall be defined as:

  1. Failure of a course.
  2. Failure of a remedial experience.
  3. Failure of a repeated course.
  4. Unprofessional academic behavior leading to a failing grade (See Disciplinary Procedures for Unprofessional Academic Behavior). This single failure in professional behavior may be deemed non-remediable.  The course director may make such a recommendation to the Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs for review and referral to the Student Progress Committee.

6.1.3.1. Students Who Fail a Single Course

Students who fail a single course will be counseled by the Senior Associate Dean of Student and Academic Affairs, or his/her designee, and may be eligible for a remedial experience as described by the following procedures for remediation:

  1. A remedial experience is defined as a directed prescription of study that has recognizable structure and periodic assessment of student progress. These are available for every required course but by themselves do not satisfy the requirements of the primary course offering.  Final approval of the recommendation(s) for remedial experiences rests with the Dean or his/her designee.
  2. A testing instrument (examination) will be used to assess competence following remediation. This examination will be equivalent to that used originally in the course. A student who achieves an overall pass in the examination following a course remediation will receive a P, S, S+ or H grade in the course, however, an S+ or H grade will not count toward Honors points for Dean’s letters (see Dean's Letter of Commendation). The passing grade will be entered into the student's record, and the previously-recorded unsatisfactory grade will remain part of the student's record. Failure to obtain a satisfactory grade in a remedial experience will result in a recommendation for dismissal from the Jacobs School (see also Section 6.1.3.2).
  3. The summers following the first and second years are the designated remediation periods. Courses failed in the first year must be remediated in the first summer and those failed in the second year in the second summer. The student must successfully remediate failed courses before starting the next year.

6.1.3.2. Students Who Fail More Than One Course

If a student fails more than one course she/he will be notified by the Chair of the Student Progress Committee and her/his record will be critically reviewed by the Committee immediately after the second failure occurs. The total number of course failures will be considered regardless of subsequent successful completion or remediation. Based on overall academic performance and non-academic extenuating circumstances, the committee will recommend whether the student will (1) remediate the deficiencies during the time period outlined under one course failure, or (2) suspend her/his current program and repeat the entire year.

Generally, a student who repeats a year will repeat the entire curriculum of that year. However, the Student Progress Committee may recommend a modification of the prescription of study in order to assure an academically sound curriculum that best meets the needs of the individual student. If a modified curriculum is required, the Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs will notify the student. Final approval rests with the Dean.

Students failing three courses during Phase 1 will be recommended for dismissal from the Jacobs School. The total number of course failures will be considered regardless of subsequent successful completion or remediation. In addition, a student failing a course for the second time will be recommended for dismissal (this second failure rule applies to students repeating a year). Also, failure to obtain a Satisfactory grade in a remedial experience will result in a recommendation for dismissal.

6.1.3.3. Notification of Course Failures

Students will be notified of course failures in writing to their UB IT Email address and USPS address by Certified Mail (with Return Receipt Requested) by the course director within 5 academic days of recording of the failure. To facilitate this process, it is the student’s responsibility to have his/her current addresses and phone numbers on file with the Office of Medical Education. In addition, students are responsible for ascertaining whether or not they have passed a course.

6.1.3.4. Students Who Fail the Step 1 Exam

Unsuccessful students (examination failure for the first time) will not be promoted or allowed to begin the next clerkship. These students will have the next clerkship block to prepare for, and sit for, the Step 1 Examination a second time. This must be done prior to the start date of the following clerkship block. These students may then be admitted to the clerkship schedule pending the results of the Step 1 Examination. Successful students will then continue in the regular curriculum, completing the third year at the beginning of the next academic year.

Students who fail the Step 1 Examination for a second time will be allowed to complete the clerkship in which they are currently enrolled but must be removed from the clerkship schedule at that point. They will then be allowed to prepare for, and sit for, the Step 1 Examination for the final time. They must sit for the Step 1 Examination by the date established by the Office of Medical Education to allow re-entry with the next incoming third year class. Students who successfully pass the Step 1 Examination on the third attempt will be allowed to return to the curriculum only after the passing grade is recorded. Students who fail the Step 1 Examination three times will be administratively dismissed from the Jacobs School.

6.2. Promotion Years 3 and 4: (Phase 2)

6.2.1. Eligibility for Promotion

Student performance in Phase 2 depends on both objective and subjective evaluation.  Advancement and promotion policies for the clinical years (Phase 2) take this into account.

All required Third Year clerkships/courses, the Third Year Clinical Competency Examination, the required courses and Credit Hour Requirements of the fourth year, and USMLE Step 2 examinations (both Clinical Knowledge (CK) and Clinical Skills (CS)) must be taken and passed before a student is certified for graduation. A student who has satisfactorily completed all clerkships/courses and requirements and demonstrated appropriate professional behavior will proceed to year 4 or graduation.

6.2.2. Promotion Timeline

Phase 2 shall be completed within 36 months, exclusive of any official leave of absence or additional approved academic or training program (e.g., research fellowship). Failure to do so will result in a recommendation for dismissal from the Jacobs School.

Phase 1 and Phase 2 shall be completed within a total of 72 months (6 years), exclusive of any official leaves of absence or additional approved academic or training program (e.g., research fellowship). Failure to do so will result in a recommendation for dismissal from the Jacobs School. A leave of absence from Phase 1 or Phase 2 shall not exceed 12 months. For a combined M.D. and Ph.D. program the Ph.D. shall not exceed an additional 48 months beyond the maximum 72 months allowed for the M.D. degree program.

Students are required to take both Step 2 Examinations (CK and CS) sufficiently in advance of the graduation to allow for a scores to be recorded. The specific date by which students must have sat for the Step 2 Examinations will be disseminated each year by the Office of Medical Education. The Third Year Clinical Competency Examination may be taken no more than three times. Students may be charged with the cost of repeating the examination. No more than three attempts at either Step 2 Examination (CK or CS) are allowed. The Step 2 Examinations must be completed within one academic year exclusive of official (non-study) leaves of absence.

A written final evaluation will be submitted to the Office of Medical Education for each student by the clerkship/course director within 4 weeks (if possible) of the completion of the clerkship/course.  The final written evaluation will be available for student review in the Office of Medical Education. Final evaluations must bear the signature of the clerkship/course director. Students who are at risk of failure will be notified by the clerkship/course director when their risk is identified.

6.2.3. Students Who Have Difficulty in Years 3 and 4

The following provisions provide the basis for decisions concerning promotion and advancement and also the academic status of students who have difficulty in Years 3 and 4. These provisions are designed to guide the Student Progress Committee to proceed in a consistent, equitable and constructive fashion when considering the academic status of students. A student's academic background, professional behavior, health and personal circumstances shall be considered carefully by the Student Progress Committee in its evaluation of academic performance.  Failure in Years 3 and 4 shall be defined as:

  1. Failure of a clerkship/course.
  2. Failure of a remedial experience.
  3. Failure of a repeated clerkship/course.
  4. Unprofessional academic behavior leading to a failing grade (see Disciplinary Procedures for Unprofessional Academic Behavior). This single failure in professional behavior may be deemed non-remediable.  The clerkship/course director may make such a recommendation to the Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs for review and referral to the Student Progress Committee.

All third year clerkship/courses and the Third Year Clinical Competency Examination must be passed before promotion to Year 4.

6.2.3.1. Students Who Fail a Single Clerkship/Course

Students are graded on their clinical performance and by written examination.  A student who fails a clerkship/course based on clinical performance will be counseled by the Senior Associate dean of Student and Academic Affairs, or his/her designee, and must repeat the entire clerkship/course. However, any student who passes a clerkship/course clinically but fails the written examination can elect to repeat the entire clerkship/course or participate in a remedial experience unless his/her performance on the written examination is below the 6th percentile.

  1. A remedial experience is defined as a directed prescription of study that has recognizable structure and periodic assessment of student progress. These are available for every required clerkship/course but by themselves do not satisfy the requirements of the primary course offering.  Final approval of the recommendation(s) for remedial experiences rests with the Dean or his/her designee.
  2. A testing instrument (examination) will be used to assess competence following remediation. This examination will be equivalent to that used originally in the clerkship/course. A student who achieves an overall pass in the examination following a clerkship/course remediation will receive an P, S, S+ or H grade in the clerkship/course, however, an S+ or H grade will not count toward Honors points for Dean’s letters (see Dean's Letter of Commendation). The passing grade will be entered into the student's record, and the previously-recorded Unsatisfactory will remain part of the student's record. Failure to obtain a satisfactory grade in a remedial experience will constitute a second clerkship/course failure and will result in a recommendation for dismissal from the Jacobs School.
  3. Students must remediate all third year core clerkship failures before entering the fourth year.

6.2.3.2. Students Who Fail More Than One Clerkship/Course

A student with two separate clerkship/course failures will be notified by the Chair of the Student Progress Committee and her/his record will be critically reviewed by the Committee immediately after the second failure occurs. The total number of course failures will be considered regardless of subsequent successful completion or remediation. If the Student Progress Committee determines that the failures can be remediated the student must (1) remediate both successfully before continuing in the Curriculum or (2) suspend her/his current program and repeat the entire year.

Generally, a student who repeats a year will repeat the entire curriculum of that year. However, the Student Progress Committee may recommend a modification of the prescription of study in order to assure an academically sound curriculum that best meets the needs of the individual student. If a modified curriculum is required, the Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs will notify the student. Final approval rests with the Dean.

A student who fails three clerkships/courses during Phase 2 will be recommended for dismissal from the Jacobs School. The total number of clerkship/course failures will be considered regardless of subsequent successful completion or remediation. In addition, a student failing a required clerkship/course for the second time will be recommended for dismissal (this second failure rule applies to students repeating a year). Also, failure to obtain a Satisfactory grade in a remedial experience will result in a recommendation for dismissal.

6.2.3.3. Notification of Course/Clerkship Failures

Year 3 students will be notified of clerkship/course failures by the clerkship/course director in writing to their UB IT Email address and USPS address (by Certified Mail) with Return Receipt Requested within 4 weeks from the end of the clerkship/course. To facilitate this process, students are responsible for keeping their current addresses and phone numbers on file with the Office of Medical Education. In addition, students are responsible for ascertaining whether or not they have passed a clerkship/course.

Year 4 students will be notified of clerkship/course failures by the clerkship/course director in writing to their UB IT Email address and USPS address (by Certified Mail) with Return Receipt Requested within 2 weeks from the end of the clerkship/course. To facilitate this process students are responsible for keeping their current addresses and phone numbers on file with the Office of Medical Education.

7. Disciplinary Procedures

7.1. Disciplinary Procedures for Unprofessional Academic Behavior

Allegations of unprofessional academic behavior (e.g., dishonesty or inappropriate behavior in a clinical training setting) will be resolved by the following procedures. Usually, the course/clerkship director (instructor) will initiate a resolution to the issue.

7.1.1. Step 1: Notification

If an instructor has reason to believe that a student may have committed an act of unprofessional academic behavior, the instructor shall notify the student suspected of the infraction in writing to their UB IT Email address and USPS address by Certified Mail, with Return Receipt Requested within 10 academic days (academic days are defined as weekdays when classes are in session) of discovery of the alleged incident.

  1. Once the alleged incident has occurred, the student may not resign from the course/clerkship without permission of the instructor.
  2. The instructor shall meet and consult with the student within 10 academic days of the date of notification. If the student fails to attend the consultative meeting, the instructor will refer the matter to the Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs for referral to the Student Progress Committee. At consultation, the instructor shall inform the student of the allegations relating to the specific incident. If, after consultation with the student, the instructor believes the student did not commit an act of unprofessional academic behavior, no sanctions will be imposed, and the instructor will orally inform the student of that finding and, if the student so requests, will provide the student with a written statement confirming that finding. If, after consultation with the student, the instructor believes the student did commit an act of unprofessional academic behavior, the instructor will refer the matter to the Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs for referral to the Student Progress Committee (see Role of the Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs. And Role of the Student Progress Committee, above).

7.1.2. Step 2: Review

The Student Progress Committee will review the allegation. The matter will be referred to the Professional Conduct Committee for review and investigation, which will report its findings back to the Student Progress Committee.  The Student Progress Committee has the authority to impose one or more of the following actions:

  1. Revision of Work. Requiring the student to replace or revise the work in which dishonesty occurred. (The instructor may choose to assign a grade of "I" pending replacement or revision of the work.)
  2. Reduction in Grade. With respect to the particular assignment/exam or final grade in the course.
  3. Failure in the Course. To be indicated on the transcript by a grade of "U" without comment. Dismissal. (See Dismissal (Phase 1 and Phase 2: Years 1, 2, 3, 4))

7.1.3. Step 3: Decision and Right to Appeal

The Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs shall provide the student with a copy of the Student Progress Committee’s decision, and the student's right to appeal that decision. The decision letter shall be sent to the student in writing to their UB IT Email address and USPS address (by Certified Mail) with Return Receipt Requested within 10 academic days of the date of the consultation meeting.

7.2. Disciplinary Procedures for Unprofessional Behavior Unrelated to Academic Behavior

Certain standards of professional conduct have always been expected of physicians. These same standards of professional conduct are expected of medical students throughout their four years of study at this School.). Integrity and responsibility, humane and ethical conduct, punctuality and attendance, timely completion of patient records and documents, and other professionally appropriate behavior, as outlined in the Code of Professional Conduct, are emphasized. These standards are considered in evaluation of a student, and will be used by the faculty in determining a student's status in the School.

If a course/clerkship director, the Student Progress Committee, a Phase Committee, or an individual faculty member or student has reason to believe that a student may have committed an act of unprofessional conduct, he/she shall refer the act of unprofessional conduct to the Senior Associate Dean Student and Academic Affairs. The Senior Associate Dean will refer the case to the Student Progress Committee, which will refer the case to Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) for review and investigation, as appropriate. The PCC will report its findings back to the Student Progress Committee. The findings of the Student Progress Committee will be forwarded to the Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs who will take the action(s) specified in the Committee’s report. Actions may include, but are not limited to:

  1. Oral or Written Admonition. A statement that a minimum standard of conduct has been violated.
  2. Written Warning. Notification that repetition of a specific behavior will result in more severe disciplinary action(s).
  3. Academic Reprimand. A letter to be placed in a student's file, or failure of an exam or course.
  4. Probation. Exclusion from participation in University activities and privileges for a stated period of time, or permission to continue in University activities under specified conditions.
  5. Restitution. Reimbursement for damages to be paid within one (1) week of next loan disbursement date.
  6. Suspension. Immediate exclusion from all classes, activities and academic buildings for a specified period of time.
  7. Dismissal. Immediate dismissal from the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (see Dismissal (Phase 1 and Phase 2: Years 1, 2, 3, 4)).

The Senior Associate Dean will inform the appropriate initiator of the complaint, the Student Progress Committee, and the Professional Conduct Committee of the final decision concerning the case.

The student may petition the Dean for an appeal to any action taken.  If the Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs is directly involved in a particular case, he/she will be recused from the deliberations of that case.

Students shall notify the Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs of all arrests and criminal convictions, within 24 hours of an arrest or criminal conviction. While criminal proceedings will not automatically bar a student from participating in a course/clerkship or other clinical situation, the Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs must assess each individual circumstance to determine if the student will be allowed to participate in the curriculum. In some circumstances, a student with pending criminal matters may be required to refrain from participating in a course/clerkship or other clinical situation until the criminal matter is resolved. If the student is convicted of a crime, the Senior Associate Dean will refer the case to the Student Progress Committee to determine if the student has committed an act of unprofessional behavior.

7.3. Procedures for Review of a Student Whose Academic Status may be Adversely Affected by a Student Progress Committee Action

Students shall have the opportunity to be interviewed by the Student Progress Committee when the committee is to consider any action that would adversely affect the student. Such meetings will be scheduled by the chairperson of the Student Progress Committee, with the proviso that students will receive at least 72 hours advance notice of the meeting. The student will be informed in writing by the chairperson of the Student Progress Committee of the academic or professional allegations. For assistance in preparing for the meeting, the student should contact the Office of Medical Education.

The student will have the opportunity to present information on his/her own behalf. The student may be accompanied by his/her advocate, who is not a lawyer, but who is either a faculty member or student at the Jacobs School. If a student is unable to be present at the initial meeting where his/her academic status is discussed, a second meeting shall be held with the student and advocate in attendance. The absence of the student and his/her advocate from the second scheduled meeting does not preclude the Student Progress Committee from taking an action regarding the student’s academic status. Any member of the Student Progress Committee who has a conflict of interest in the case (e.g., a teacher in a course for which the student’s academic performance is in question) will be recused from the meeting of the Committee, except as required to provide information requested by the student or Committee.

The findings of the Committee, including any findings of the Professional Conduct Committee, will be forwarded to the Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs who will take the action(s) specified in the Committee’s report.  The actions of the Senior Associate Dean will be issued to the student. The student may petition the Dean of the Jacobs School for an appeal (see Appeals Process).

7.4. Dismissal (Phase 1 and Phase 2: Years 1, 2, 3, 4)

The Jacobs School reserves the right to dismiss any student who fails to meet the academic standards or who fails to demonstrate the required standards for the ethical and competent practice of medicine. Specifically a student will be dismissed when:

  1. A student fails any required course/clerkship for a second time.
  2. A student fails a remedial experience.
  3. A student fails 3 required courses in total during the Phase 1 Curriculum.
  4. A student cannot complete the Phase 1 Curriculum in 36 months or less (exclusive of any official leave of absence).
  5. A student fails a total of 3 clerkships/courses in the two years of the Phase 2 Curriculum.
  6. A student cannot complete the Phase2 Curriculum in 36 months or less (exclusive of any official leave of absence).
  7. A student fails Step 1 of the USMLE three times.
  8. Any student who fails to demonstrate the required standards for the ethical and competent practice of medicine as described in the Code of Professional Conduct.

7.5. Procedures for Notification of a Student Whose Academic Status will be Adversely Affected by a Decision of the Dean

Any student who is required to remediate a course, or is required to repeat a year of the curriculum, or is dismissed from the Jacobs School, will be notified in writing by the Dean’s designee, usually the Senior Associate Dean of Student and Academic Affairs.

8. Grievance Procedures

The Jacobs School encourages the prompt and fair resolution of grievances of medical students as they arise. The following plan provides a sequence of events, which are designed to remove the distorting pressure of personality, or conflict of interest by the relevant parties, from the resolution of medical student grievances. The plan assures equal, dispassionate, responsive and equitable treatment of unique qualities of a grievance, in a well-defined, but flexible structure that address issues that are unique to medical education, as well as academic areas common to faculty-student or administration-student relationships. For assistance in pursuing a grievance, the student should contact the Office of Medical Education.

8.1. Nature of a Grievance

A grievance shall include, but not be restricted to, a complaint by a medical student that there has been a violation, misinterpretation or inequitable application of any of the regulations or grading policies of the University at Buffalo, Jacobs School, department or faculty. A grievance is usually brought by a student against a faculty member.

8.2. Time limit

A grievance must be submitted to the Office of Medical Education within 90 calendar days from the date of the incident/act.

8.3. Resolution by Informal Discussion

Virtually all disputes originate at the course/clerkship level and should, if feasible, be resolved informally. The course/clerkship director and student should attempt to meet in order to resolve the issues involved amicably and with mutual respect. It may be useful for the student to seek the assistance of an advocate to assist in even-handed resolution of a dispute. In addition, since grievance is usually brought by a student against a faculty member, the chair of the department of the faculty member named in the grievance may participate in the informal discussion.

8.4. Department Level Review

The student who feels the grievance cannot be resolved informally, should request a hearing with the grievance committee of the department of the faculty member named in the grievance. If the department has no such committee, the written statement of the grievance and the grounds for the grievance should be given instead to the department chairperson. The chairperson shall rule on the case within 10 academic days of receiving the grievance or stipulate in writing the reason(s) why this is impossible. The student and/or faculty member may appeal the chairperson’s decision (see Appeals Process).

If the department chairperson is a party against whom the grievance is brought, either as a teaching faculty member or as chairperson, or where the chairperson believes it will best serve the interests of the department, direct petition to the Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs of the Jacobs School or his/her designee may be made.

If the party against whom the grievance is brought is the Dean of the Jacobs School, direct petition to the Vice President for Health Sciences, or his/her designee, may be made. If the Dean is also the Vice President for Health Sciences, direct petition may be made to the Provost of the University at Buffalo.

9. Appeals Process

The Jacobs School encourages the prompt and fair resolution of all appeals. A student may appeal any action taken by the Student Progress Committee or as a result of a grievance procedure.

9.1. Sequence of Events

The following plan provides a sequence of events that are designed to remove the distorting pressure of personality or conflict of interest by the relevant parties from the resolution of medical student appeals. This plan involves the assurance of equal, dispassionate, responsive and equitable treatment of the nuances and unique qualities of each appeal. For assistance in pursuing an appeal, the student should contact the Office of Medical Education.

  1. The student (and/or faculty member, in the case of an appeal of a grievance against faculty member) has no more than 10 academic days following the filing of a ruling to deliver evidentiary materials to the Dean. The student shall provide the Dean with a written statement of evidence supporting his or her position, any relevant documentation, and the names of potential witnesses.
  2. Upon review of relevant materials (including all evidence and statements communicated during consultation), if the Dean does not deem it necessary to consider further the circumstances of the case, the Dean will notify the student in writing to their UB IT Email address and USPS address by Certified Mail, with Return Receipt Requested, and the Appeals Committee of his or her decision within 20 academic days of receipt of the student or faculty member’s appeal. Alternatively, if the Dean deems it necessary to consider further circumstances of the case, he or she shall convene the Appeals Committee within 20 academic days of the date which the Dean received the request for initiation of the appeal.
  3. The Dean’s office shall convey all evidentiary materials to the student or faculty member, and the Appeals Committee at the time the notice of the hearing is delivered. The student and the Appeals Committee shall be given at least 72 hours’ notice of the hearing.
  4. At hearing(s), the Appeals Committee shall provide sufficient opportunity for both principals to present their positions and shall allow each principal the right to question the presentation(s), written or verbal, of those who contribute information to the Committee.  This is not an adversarial proceeding. The hearing(s) shall not be subject to the rules governing a legal proceeding. Each student or faculty principal shall have the right to be present and to have one advisor present at all hearings. In no case shall the advisor be an attorney.
  5. The Appeals Committee shall provide the Dean with a written statement of recommendations within 10 academic days after the final meeting of the Committee. Recommendations may affirm, overturn or modify the findings of the subject being appealed.
  6. The Dean considers the Appeals Committee's findings and recommendations and renders a final decision. The Dean’s decision shall be submitted in writing from the Dean to the student (and/or faculty member, in the case of an appeal of a grievance against faculty member), in writing to their UB IT Email address and USPS address by Certified Mail, with Return Receipt Requested, with the Appeals Committee's statement of recommendations.

9.2. Appealing a Decision

The student and/or faculty member has the right to appeal the Dean’s decision to the Vice President for Health Sciences. The Vice President for Health Sciences will only consider appeals that document violations of applicable due process.  The Vice President for Health Sciences will not consider appeals that merely challenge the appropriateness of a judgment reached following a full and fair review of a matter by the Appeals Committee and the Dean. The student and/or faculty member has 10 academic days following formal notification of the action taken by the Dean, to appeal to the Vice President for Health Sciences. The decision of the Vice President for Health Sciences is final and there is no right of further appeal. If the Dean is also the Vice President for Health Sciences, the student and/or faculty member has 10 academic days following formal notification of the action taken by the Dean, to appeal to the University Provost. The decision of the University Provost is final and there is no right of further appeal.

10. Recommendation for Graduation

The degree of Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) is conferred by the State University of New York when the student candidate has satisfied all of the academic requirements of the Jacobs School and met standards of professional behavior.

11. Student Attendance at Nationial Meetings/Research Conferences

The Jacobs School supports the attendance of students at national meetings and research conferences. However, because the primary mission and obligation of medical students is to fully participate in their medical education, students must obtain approval to attend these meetings or conferences. However, the circumstance concerning the specific lecture, case study, examination, and clinical responsibilities of students from Phase 1 and Phase 2 differ, requiring the following regulations:

11.1. Phase 1 Curriculum

If attendance at a meeting or conference requires a student to be absent from a required course, and because a meeting or conference may coincide with previously scheduled examinations, approval to attend a meeting or conference will depend on the following:

  1. A review of the student’s academic record by the Office of Medical Education showing that he/she is currently in good academic standing.
  2. Discussion between the Office of Medical Education and the course/clerkship director, confirming that the student is performing satisfactorily in ongoing courses/clerkships.
  3. Discussions between the Office of Medical Education and the course/clerkship director, confirming there are no conflicts with previously scheduled required activities or examinations. If a conflict exists, it is at the discretion of course/clerkship director to offer an alternative date for the activity or exam. If an alternative activity or exam date is not given, the student will not attend the meeting/conference.

11.2. Phase 2 Curriculum

Students in the Phase 2 Curriculum have clinical responsibilities, as well as scheduled required activities and examinations. Therefore, third and fourth year students who wish to attend a national meeting or research conference must obtain permission from the course/clerkship director and Office of Medical Education. If a conflict with non-clinical responsibilities or activities exists, it is at the discretion of course/clerkship director to offer an alternative date for the activity or examination. If a conflict with clinical responsibilities exists, the student will not attend the meeting/conference.

12. Enrollment in Non-Required Elective Courses

The primary mission of medical students is to fully participate in their medical education, as defined by the standard curriculum. Students may also enroll in non-required courses from offerings of the Jacobs School or the University. However, students must obtain approval to enroll in these courses. Approval to enroll in these non-required elective courses will depend on the following:

  1. A review of the student’s academic record by the Office of Medical Education showing that he/she is in good academic standing.
  2. Discussions between the Office of Medical Education and the course/clerkship director, confirming that the student is performing satisfactorily in ongoing courses/clerkships.
  3. Discussions between the Office of Medical Education discussions and the course/clerkship director, confirming that there are no conflicts with previously scheduled required activities or examinations.

13. Leave of Absence Policy

13.1. Leaves of Absence

Leaves of absence are granted either to give a student time to resolve a problem or to allow the student time for another pursuit that will supplement his/her medical education. Requests for leave must be approved by the Jacobs School. The steps outlined below for obtaining a leave and returning to school are formal. This process represents the School's concern that leaves be granted only when justified and consistent with the student's effective medical education. Requests for leave receive careful consideration, and the procedure for returning from leave is outlined. A Leave of Absence Committee working closely with the Dean or his/her designee considers requests. The Leave of Absence Committee is annually appointed by the Dean and consists of faculty from the pre-clinical and clinical departments. Leaves may be granted for the following reasons:

  1. To resolve personal problems: These leaves are given for a wide range of problems, including both the student's own physical or emotional health, as well as unforeseen responsibilities.
  2. For supplementary pursuits: Leaves may be approved for students in good standing who want to do something that will supplement their medical training, such as courses in another department or at another institution.
  3. To resolve academic problems: Occasionally, a leave may be appropriate for intensive remediation of academic deficits. This type of leave must be structured and approved by the Student Progress Committee prior to presentation to the Leave of Absence Committee.

13.2. Compulsory Leaves

A student may be placed on compulsory leave by the Jacobs School due to inability to function effectively as a medical student. Brief compulsory leaves for the duration of up to one course or clerkship may be assigned by the Dean or his/her designee. Extended compulsory leaves are assigned by the Leave of Absence Committee.

13.3. Extended Leaves

Extended leaves are granted upon the recommendation of the Leave of Absence Committee with the final approval of the Dean and the Executive Committee of the Jacobs School.

Extended Leaves are granted for a maximum of one calendar year and may be further extended by the Leave of Absence Committee with the approval of the Executive Committee and Dean. Stipulation(s) for student return will be established at the time the leave of absence is granted.

13.4. Applying for a Leave

Any student may be granted brief administrative leaves for the duration of a single course or clerkship at the discretion of the Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs. A leave longer than a single course or clerkship is considered to be an extended leave. A student who is considering applying for an extended leave should first discuss this possibility with the Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs who will provide help in considering the rationale for the leave, as well as possible alternatives. The final decision on whether to seek an extended leave rests with the student.

If an extended leave is sought, the student must present his/her rationale for the leave in writing to the Leave of Absence Committee. This rationale should include both the reason for the leave and the ways in which the student anticipates using the leave to either resolve the problem or apply the supplementary pursuit. Students may be asked to meet with the Leave of Absence Committee.

13.5. Returning from a Leave

Students may return from Leave when the purpose of the Leave has been accomplished, or conditions of the leave have been met, and the student is ready to resume his or her duties. Return is not automatic, but is at the sole discretion of the Jacobs School Leave of Absence Committee. All students considering returning from leave should first contact the Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs to discuss their return. Discussion of the student's schedule occurs at this time.

For students returning from a brief leave, no other steps are usually necessary.  However, the Senior Associate Dean for Student and Academic Affairs may request additional information to be presented to the Leave of Absence Committee regarding the student’s return to the School.   Students returning from extended leaves may also be required to present to the Leave of Absence Committee an explanation of how the purposes of their leave have been accomplished.

Occasionally, a psychiatric evaluation is needed to evaluate a return from leave or a request for leave. This evaluation is conducted by a psychiatrist chosen by the student from a panel of psychiatrists designated by the Jacobs School. The cost of the evaluation is paid by the student and the student is required to complete an authorization permitting his/her treating physician to provide a report to the Dean or designee regarding the student’s fitness to return to the School.

14. Policies for Students Seeking a Second Degree Independent of the Dual Degree Programs Offered by the Jacobs School

Commitment to the School’s curriculum is considered to be the primary commitment of our students. Students seeking a second degree during their tenure as medical students must obtain approval from the Dean or his/her designee before embarking on such a program.

The second degree program must not conflict with the commitment to the School’s curriculum. If a conflict exists, or if a student’s School program is in jeopardy, pursuit of one of the degree programs must be terminated.

15. Summer Fellowships

A large number of summer fellowships are available to support research projects and preceptorships for students. In all cases, fellowships are awarded with the understanding that participants are in good academic standing. In the event that a projected summer fellow obtains a course/clerkship failure requiring remediation, the Office of Medical Education will review the student's status, examine conditions for the fellowship established by the sponsor, and construct a plan which will facilitate successful remediation as the first priority. In all cases, the start of the fellowship project will be delayed until after the student passes the remediation experience.

Log of Policy Updates

09/27/17: Faculty Council voted to approve an addition to the section “Dean’s Letter of Commendation” that defines the relationship between credit hours and honors points.

06/27/2018: Faculty Council voted to approve the removal of grading policy from this document.

11/28/2018: Faculty Council voted to approve faculty recusal when evaluating students the faculty have previously treated for a medical issue.