Many people dream of becoming a doctor so that they have a chance to help others. It takes an enormous amount of time and effort, not to mention substantial financial investment to realize such a dream. At minimum it involves four years of undergraduate work, four years of medical school and at least three years of residency depending on the medical specialty. For medical residents close to their dream of becoming a doctor, the threat of termination is beyond devastating.
If you are being threatened with probation, non-renewal, or termination, you will need to evaluate if the reason could possibly be personal. If so, it may be something that could be resolved through an intermediary respected by all parties. An incident with a program director that you felt was minor could have provoked an issue questioning your professionalism.
Should you not be able to resolve the problem informally with the aid and support of colleagues, your contract will outline the institution’s policies for addressing disciplinary issues. Most often there is a disciplinary board set up to hear cases and you will have a chance to defend yourself there. The board has a set amount of time in which to give a decision regarding your case. Should you want to dispute the outcome of the hearing, you have a limited window in which to appeal the board’s decision. It is crucial that you appeal in a timely manner as once the window for appeal has closed, the opportunity to challenge the board’s findings is lost.
The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) is the organization that accredits most residency programs. The group has established guidelines for filing a formal complaint if you feel you have been dismissed unfairly. If your residency program is governed by the ACGME then you are entitled to a hearing where you can defend yourself against any allegations before an impartial panel. However, the Chief Medical Officer, or Program Director is not obligated to accept the recommendations of the panel. The ACGME explains its view on discipline in the Program Director Guide to the Common Program Requirements and encourages constructive teaching and guidance over disciplinary sanctions. Terminating a resident is seen as a last resort.
Whatever situation you find yourself in, it is advisable to document any meetings with your program director in writing and even to make sure a third party, such as another resident or attending physician is witness to these meetings. Enlist the help of an attorney to make sure you are receiving due process and gather as much written evidence as possible to support your credibility. Positive evaluations, test scores, awards of recognition, letters of support from nurses, attending physicians and other residents can all help you build your case that the discipline imposed upon you is unwarranted.
Philadelphia Health Care Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Defend Terminated Residents
If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated and are considering filing an appeal, do not delay. The experienced Philadelphia health care lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. can assist you in defending your right to finish your residency. Call us at 215-569-1999 to make an appointment at our Philadelphia office. You can also contact us online.