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I am a former Physician Assistant Student who was most recently dismissed in May 2020. This was due as a result of my unsuccessful completion in my Pharmacology II course which was 79.07% with a failed remediation exam. The downfall of my academic success started in March shortly after the announcement that all classes would be transitioned to online over Zoom. As for the entire year I had my struggles as a PA student but never to the extent that I had endured being at home in NJ with a multitude of distractions. Having been diagnosed with both Aspergers and ADHD only made my student life ten times harder being at home and not having the appropriate accomodations. I struggled heavily with studying and test-taking as I would no longer be able to utilize my single dorm room due to COVID restrictions at the university. On top of this, I was only days away from starting my clinical year with the 53 other students in my cohort (7 students in total dismissed since the start of the didactic year).

Right now I have done two appeals regarding the academic dismissal. I truly feel that the program I was attending had done multiple wrong things to me during the graduate program. It is humiliating and disrespectful to me as a student for the things that they have done. Such things are unfair grading, ADA violations, FERPA violations and even HIPPA violations. This past month I reached out to the appropriate staff member on campus outside of the PA program to make a formal complaint as my complaints were never addressed in my previous appeals from the PA faculty. The corruption of the PA faculty members at my program leaves me disgusted as these very people were my role models.

What is the possibility of Reinstatement into my PA program?

What consequences should be made for the offending professors?

What should my future approach be to my career as a future medical professional?

Any information would be helpful to me.

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What is the possibility of Reinstatement into my PA program?

  • How are we possibly to know the answer to this?  You failed a course and then a remediation exam.  If you didn't have ADA identifiable diagnoses then I would say zero.  If your program did not follow ADA guidelines and accommodations that were clearly required then I would assume you would at minimum have a legal case for refunding of tuition dollars. 

What consequences should be made for the offending professors?

  • This is just immature.  YOU failed a course.  You even go so far as to claim there was "unfair grading."  The only form of "unfair grading" is if your grading scale was different than your classmates.  While you claim to have ADA identifiable diagnoses that required you specific accommodations, you are (were) in school to become a medical provider.  Let's be clear: THERE ARE NO ADA ACCOMMODATIONS for medical providers.  You harm/kill a patient the malpractice lawyer will salivate when you tell them, "oh, sorry I wasn't provided accommodations due to my Asperger Syndrome and ADHD!!"  (Also, Asperger Syndrome is no longer a utilized diagnosis.)

What should my future approach be to my career as a future medical professional?

  • If this post is indicative of your approach toward being a medical professional then please find another career.

Any information would be helpful to me.

  • Take responsibility for your actions.  Blaming others for your failures gets you nowhere.  Blaming others when YOU failed a course is failing yourself.  We all fail sometimes...it sucks, but it happens.  During my PA school we had a significant turnover of faculty.  During the transition I struggled with some of my classes and failed two separate exams.  I was required to complete remediation.  Why did I fail?  It really wasn't that I didn't know the material, it was that I was used to one type of test questions and the new professor utilized a very different testing style.  Guess what...it still falls on me...end...of...story.  I completed the remediation, completed my rotations, and am now a damn good PA.  In reality, I would actually say that I am a better PA because of that struggle.  It helped me realize that studying for an exam is not the goal.  I need to study to know the material because I will actually use this in the future.  So again, take responsibility, own up to your shortcomings, and don't blame your failings on your diagnoses, professors, school, etc.  We all have our struggles, and part of life is that it is unfair.  Some people have greater struggles than others, but that doesn't mean use it as an excuse to blame others for our problems.  Does that mean you shouldn't be given another shot?  I have no idea.  Maybe you should, maybe you shouldn't.  But, understand that PA schools have EVERY reason to want to keep you in their program.  They do NOT want to dismiss you.  It looks bad on them for potential future applicants AND opens them up to increased scrutiny from ARC-PA.
 
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4 hours ago, mgriffiths said:

 

What is the possibility of Reinstatement into my PA program?

  • How are we possibly to know the answer to this?  You failed a course and then a remediation exam.  If you didn't have ADA identifiable diagnoses then I would say zero.  If your program did not follow ADA guidelines and accommodations that were clearly required then I would assume you would at minimum have a legal case for refunding of tuition dollars. 

@mgriffiths
 I failed the course during my stay at home during COVID which was circumstances that I could not control. In particular, an assignment was no credited due to technical difficulties even after explanation with firm evidence. Including taking the remediation exam while at home in that environment. I am firmly aware of the possible legal action that I may have to take as a result of the ADA violations which hold legitimacy in clear writing.

What consequences should be made for the offending professors?

  • This is just immature.  YOU failed a course.  You even go so far as to claim there was "unfair grading."  The only form of "unfair grading" is if your grading scale was different than your classmates.  While you claim to have ADA identifiable diagnoses that required you specific accommodations, you are (were) in school to become a medical provider.  Let's be clear: THERE ARE NO ADA ACCOMMODATIONS for medical providers.  You harm/kill a patient the malpractice lawyer will salivate when you tell them, "oh, sorry I wasn't provided accommodations due to my Asperger Syndrome and ADHD!!"  (Also, Asperger Syndrome is no longer a utilized diagnosis.)

Is it mature to ask of potential consequences for the professors who discriminated against me? No. It would be immature of me to 'let it slide' and agree with the professors who will surely continue the same behavior in the future.

ADA accommodations do not only apply to education but also in the workplace. If you or someone you know has a disability they can request for reasonable accommodations as long as they can perform essential functions in order to do the job. It is insulting to any HUMAN with a disability to deny the reasonable accommodations that are correlated with their diagnosis. Medical Malpractice is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT than receiving accommodations under ADA law. Looking to simply ridicule and compare ADA accommodations to medical malpractice does not bode well for commitment to the profession. Regardless whether you are a PA-S or PA-C.

- I chose to say Asperger's rather than Social Communication Disorder because that is what has been written in my records for years.

What should my future approach be to my career as a future medical professional?

  • If this post is indicative of your approach toward being a medical professional then please find another career.

In regards to my future approach I plan on continuing my fight for my PA seat that I rightfully deserve. If things don't go as planned I can always find alternative health careers. I'm in my early twenties so I have a tremendous amount of time figure things out.

Any information would be helpful to me.

  • Take responsibility for your actions.  Blaming others for your failures gets you nowhere.  Blaming others when YOU failed a course is failing yourself.  We all fail sometimes...it sucks, but it happens.  During my PA school we had a significant turnover of faculty.  During the transition I struggled with some of my classes and failed two separate exams.  I was required to complete remediation.  Why did I fail?  It really wasn't that I didn't know the material, it was that I was used to one type of test questions and the new professor utilized a very different testing style.  Guess what...it still falls on me...end...of...story.  I completed the remediation, completed my rotations, and am now a damn good PA.  In reality, I would actually say that I am a better PA because of that struggle.  It helped me realize that studying for an exam is not the goal.  I need to study to know the material because I will actually use this in the future.  So again, take responsibility, own up to your shortcomings, and don't blame your failings on your diagnoses, professors, school, etc.  We all have our struggles, and part of life is that it is unfair.  Some people have greater struggles than others, but that doesn't mean use it as an excuse to blame others for our problems.  Does that mean you shouldn't be given another shot?  I have no idea.  Maybe you should, maybe you shouldn't.  But, understand that PA schools have EVERY reason to want to keep you in their program.  They do NOT want to dismiss you.  It looks bad on them for potential future applicants AND opens them up to increased scrutiny from ARC-PA.

Blaming others? The evidence is as clear as day with the emails I have. Think to yourself. You're a practicing PA-C right? Go into your patients room and start to 'accidentally' read the medical history of another family member. That would be committing a HIPPA violation, correct? Same laws apply to disclosure of a disability in education. In my case, it happened to be over email and to hundreds of people that I had NEVER GIVEN CONSENT. The only people I truly blame is the professors negligence to students with a disability during COVID.

I suppose one thing we can agree on is to never study an exam for a grade. Rather take the time to know the material since it will apply to any patient you encounter as a provider. However, you should humble yourself and realize there is more to know about ADA law than what you currently know.

 

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You have no idea what I do and do not know about ADA law.

But, you are in an unfortunate situation, and I am sorry for that.  This COVID ridiculousness is out of anyone's control (unless you want to get massively political, which is useless in this situation).  Were you discriminated against?  I have zero idea, because I don't know what accommodations were agreed upon within your institution and department (honestly don't even want to know - this is between you and your institution).  You also haven't stated what accommodations were violated, only that they were (again, don't even want to know).  It is often that we will want to believe we have been violated, when in reality it was something outside the control of either party.  That does not automatically equal a violation.  Again, not saying it wasn't a violation, but also not saying it was.  I will say, that it sounds like you are saying that your home situation is what violated your accommodations.  If this is true, how is your institution possibly supposed to have any control over your home situation?

Bottom line, you are claiming that one assignment that wasn't turned in on time due to technical difficulties was the difference between failing and passing a class.  Lots can be said about that, such as don't procrastinate.  But, the bottom line is that you put yourself in the position to allow one assignment to cause you to fail the course.  Take responsibility, disability or otherwise.  Again, that doesn't mean you 100% don't deserve to have your seat restored...there is absolutely more information here than I am privy to and probably more than even you are privy to.

Lastly, you are correct that the ADA applies to both education and workplace.  I never said it didn't.  But, the point I am trying to make is that you can't use your disabilities as an excuse.  I had a coworker (NP) who has severe anxiety and in her case has been deemed a disability (note: anxiety is not always a disability).  She absolutely was NOT able to handle stressful situations.  She attempted to use this to offload her "stressful" patients to me and the other providers in the office.  The result was that she was fired for not following office protocol for transferring patients.  She sued and the final result was that she remained fired.  To this day (several years later), she remains unemployed and is now trying to file for social security disability, which she 100% does not qualify for, but will probably be successful if she fights long enough.  Generally speaking, there is very little an employer will be able to do to provide accommodations for a disabled medical provider.  Obviously it's dependent on the disability and associated accommodations.  But, any healthcare employer will find any reason to not hire you as soon as you file for ADA accommodations, and they will 100% use the excuse that you are unable to perform essential job functions.  EXAMPLE: my mother-in-law has several ADA qualifying diseases, one of which limits her ability to be in fluorescent lighting for any length of time, as well as how bright the lights can be.  She is non-healthcare, and her employer was required to change the lights in her office.  I'm sure that was annoying for her employer, but doable.  It seems simple, but in many healthcare settings that would be essentially impossible.  Using myself as an example, I work in 3 different offices (5 if you include the UCs I often help cover) and the hospital.  I work in ortho...clinic and surgery.  While technically my employer could transition me to a clinic only position, they would 100% terminate me if it was a disability keeping me from the OR (they're not going to dim the lights for me...surgeon has to be able to see).  Again, the whole essential job functions thing.

P.S. Academic entities are not covered by HIPAA.  HIPAA only applies to healthcare entities (hospitals, clinics, providers, workers, insurance companies, etc.). Yes, there are laws regarding privacy and disability in education, but it's not HIPAA.  I believe it is FERPA, but I'm definitely not an expert on privacy in education.  So don't go barreling into whatever appeals process you have started claiming a HIPAA violation.  Often lawyers are involved in these appeals and the school will win 100% if you claim HIPAA violation.

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I'll be honest, I don't have any new input because i'm not too familiar with the admin side of PA schools. However, i'm very interested in the outcome.  I don't fully agree with all mgriffiths said, but I think that a lot of it is pretty realistic, unfortunately. Let me try to break down what you two said! 

 

What is the possibility of Reinstatement into my PA program?

-- Mgrif is right, we won't exactly know the answer to this. Frankly, this might be a hot take and no one clock me for even saying this: I have always felt that education admin is kind of rigged (my sister works in ed admin and trust me, I hear things about other people). Admin has a bad day/the miss their lunch/something more urgent comes up? Chances are, it'll frame with negatives and make them have a more negative perception of the case. However, if they have a great day, it could frame it with some positivity and hope? It really boils down to luck playing in your favor. We can't expect all humans to be 100% objective, especially when it isn't a case that would dramatically change THEIR life, without consideration to yours. Once again, this is a hot take so I don't wanna get slammed for saying this. ^

-- also, Mgrif is right in the fact that you did fail the exam and the remediation. There is basically no excuse for that because all other students had to take it in the same environment as you. Giving you an advantage to retake it another time would be seen as unfair to other students even if you have a disability, as you already had a retake. I've been there where I straight up failed an exams, but we're human and it happens. However, of course, more was at stake for you in this case.

-- You're right in the fact that if you have proper documentation, there are protocols put in place so you can't be discriminated. It doesn't matter if it's a private school, the legality of it takes precedence. I worked for the disability center on campus in undergrad and we were firmly restricted from even saying what the disability "diagnosis" was over call/email/conversation. Even if it was with the student directly, we literally had to train ourselves to not speak it into existence, because of how it's stigmatized/can sound derogatory even if you don't mean it. So, I think it was pretty inappropriate for the admin to even put this over email. 

 

What consequences should be made for the offending professors?

-- Mgrif, you need to chill here, savage, haha! This is going wayy too hard into the situation. You made your point that it was a failed course. Unfair grading happens. Given a subject like pharmacology is hard to have unfair grading for,  it's still very possible.

--"THERE ARE NO ADA ACCOMMODATIONS for medical providers... malpractice lawyer...", this wasn't super necessary to bring up. Given, I don't know the situation in full, employers can make workplace accommodations. For example, give him a zone he can work comfortably and well in. By even bringing up malpractice law, you're basically asserting that he is incapable to do his job based on his disability, and it would be more of a reason for malpractice crows to come at him. Yeah, that's not it. 

 

What should my future approach be to my career as a future medical professional?

-- Noah, if you want more than anything in your heart to become a PA, you'll get there. Maybe this school isn't for you, but another one will be. If you want to continue this path, I suggest you start the process to reapplying. If this school is going to do this to you THIS hard, then I don't think this is the school system you want to be in. 

 

Any information would be helpful to me.

-- Mgrif is right here in the fact that you should take responsibility because at the end of the day, the admin will take that more heavily, than blaming them. Even if they are in the wrong, they have full authority over you coming back to the class or not. Graduate, and THEN come out to expose them or whatever you want to do. 

-- This is 100% true though - "understand that PA schools have EVERY reason to want to keep you in their program.  They do NOT want to dismiss you.  It looks bad on them for potential future applicants AND opens them up to increased scrutiny from ARC-PA". It ruins their numbers and in the PA program small class sizes, losing you is like HUGE on their finances/retention. When I heard that 1 program I applied to had 2 people (in a class of 30) drop out, I was like, yeah yikes. So, they are putting a lot at stake in terms of reputation for even doing this! 

 

 had my deficits in school, too Beating yourself up over something you can't control or reconsidering your dream might not be it, or it might be, then this is your chance to run!.

 

I feel like I typed a lot, but didn't really say anything new. However, I believe in you. Keep us posted.

 

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5 minutes ago, mands said:

"THERE ARE NO ADA ACCOMMODATIONS for medical providers... malpractice lawyer...", this wasn't super necessary to bring up. Given, I don't know the situation in full, employers can make workplace accommodations. For example, give him a zone he can work comfortably and well in. By even bringing up malpractice law, you're basically asserting that he is incapable to do his job based on his disability, and it would be more of a reason for malpractice crows to come at him. Yeah, that's not it.

Absolutely understand your point, but I disagree.  Maybe I was a bit harsh, but the point I am trying to make is that we must overcome our struggles and our struggles are our own.  Am I saying that OP can't function as a medical provider due to his/her disabilities?  100% NOT what I am saying, nor what I said.  My point is that OP needs to hold him/her-self to a higher standard.  The standards of care do not change because of a provider's disabilities.  If OP is able to provide healthcare that meets (or exceeds) established standards of care then OP can function as a medical provider, and has every opportunity to succeed.

Again...let me give you an example.  My father is a family practice physician and has been diagnosed with Parkinson's (obviously not the same as OP's stated disabilities, so not trying to make an equivalency).  It's early stages, but it 100% has already noticeably affected his motor function.  While the tremors improve with purposeful movement, it still limits his fine motor skills.  As a result he now performs almost zero procedures.  He used to perform pretty much any procedure allowable for a FM physician, but closed that portion of "his" practice even before his diagnosis was confirmed.  As a physician with Parkinson's he is unable to maintain standards of care for those procedures.  If he harmed a patient during a procedure, his Parkinson's is not a quality malpractice defense.  In fact, if he even brought it up during a deposition he would almost guarantee losing the case.  So again, all that matters is whether OP is able to meet the educational requirements to graduate from PA school.  Assuming he/she is able to do that, then the only other question is whether OP is able to provide healthcare that meets established standards of care.

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  • 5 months later...
On 6/24/2020 at 9:26 PM, Noah6131 said:

I am a former Physician Assistant Student who was most recently dismissed in May 2020. This was due as a result of my unsuccessful completion in my Pharmacology II course which was 79.07% with a failed remediation exam. The downfall of my academic success started in March shortly after the announcement that all classes would be transitioned to online over Zoom. As for the entire year I had my struggles as a PA student but never to the extent that I had endured being at home in NJ with a multitude of distractions. Having been diagnosed with both Aspergers and ADHD only made my student life ten times harder being at home and not having the appropriate accomodations. I struggled heavily with studying and test-taking as I would no longer be able to utilize my single dorm room due to COVID restrictions at the university. On top of this, I was only days away from starting my clinical year with the 53 other students in my cohort (7 students in total dismissed since the start of the didactic year).

Right now I have done two appeals regarding the academic dismissal. I truly feel that the program I was attending had done multiple wrong things to me during the graduate program. It is humiliating and disrespectful to me as a student for the things that they have done. Such things are unfair grading, ADA violations, FERPA violations and even HIPPA violations. This past month I reached out to the appropriate staff member on campus outside of the PA program to make a formal complaint as my complaints were never addressed in my previous appeals from the PA faculty. The corruption of the PA faculty members at my program leaves me disgusted as these very people were my role models.

What is the possibility of Reinstatement into my PA program?

What consequences should be made for the offending professors?

What should my future approach be to my career as a future medical professional?

Any information would be helpful to me.

Curious to know the outcome as well...

I find it particularly interesting about blaming the program about not having appropriate accommodations IN HIS OWN HOME.  I'm not all up on ADA violations, but is the school responsible for making sure you have a place free of distraction in your own home?  I know in a testing center or on campus, but at home?  Was any blame placed on his family?  The likely source of a "multitude of distractions" because they couldn't give him a quite place to take his test in the house.  

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16 minutes ago, ANESMCR said:

Litigation against schools from disgruntled students does not go anywhere. This is a perfect example. That’s why there was no follow up post. 

Can confirm. Unless you have a case so slam dunk that the ACLU will take it pro Bono, you can’t win and it’ll probably be more damaging to pursue it. It’s not right, as I’ve seen more than my share of schools lacking integrity, but it’s the way it is.

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On 12/18/2020 at 10:06 AM, DizzyJ said:

Curious to know the outcome as well...

I find it particularly interesting about blaming the program about not having appropriate accommodations IN HIS OWN HOME.  I'm not all up on ADA violations, but is the school responsible for making sure you have a place free of distraction in your own home?  I know in a testing center or on campus, but at home?  Was any blame placed on his family?  The likely source of a "multitude of distractions" because they couldn't give him a quite place to take his test in the house.  

A reasonable accommodation could be longer time for assignments and exams, or possibly offer him an opportunity to return after in school training resumes since his expectation at the onset was to have a brick and mortar experience. That’s the only thing I could see. As a person with ADD, I can see being at home causing detriment. I never studied at home, and with everything being closed I imagine I would have struggled as well. There are always alternatives though. If I had to go camping to study, that’s what I would have done.

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Higher education disability administrator here! I start PA school this summer.

My department is struggling to figure out what to do with students who have reduced distraction testing accommodations. How am I supposed to fix a home?! At what point do we reach reasonable vs. unreasonable accommodations?

I can lengthen test time to double, supply students noise cancelling headphones/earplugs to go home with, and give the instructors a heads up that the AI system that watches them during testing will probably flag them for misconduct, but that's about it...

Extending a test date or providing separate exams for just one student so that testing integrity can remain intact is what I would consider unreasonable. The moment that I decide to go above reasonable accommodations, I walk into "preferential treatment" which is a HUGE nope and would be basis for discrimination.

I just recently had a similar case as the OP with one of my nursing students. I'm curious to know how this turned out.

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