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  • Dr. Bonilla

Health & Wellness

Student Health & Wellness Policy

The College of Medicine is committed to ensuring a safe learning environment that promotes maximal student development.  In order for students to reach their full potential our students must be able to learn in a healthy and safe community.   The College of Medicine recognizes that students may have pre-existing medical issues (including psychiatric), or develop such issues in their course of study at MUSC, that could threaten their own well being and the well being of others, as well as impair their ability to perform at the high level necessary to be a medical student or,  eventually, a physician. 

The College of Medicine Dean’s Office supports health and recovery.  Students are encouraged to pay attention to necessary self care activities such as sleep, eating and exercise.  Preventative self care activities can go a long way to ensuring wellness.  When problems do develop, we may encourage students to use several on campus resources to address medical issues such as Student Health or the Counseling and Psychological Services Center.   They are free to use outside providers as well.  The COM Dean’s Office is always available to work with a student in a confidential manner to ensure they are aware of the services that can help them get or remain well.   Seeking help voluntarily in these circumstances is strongly encouraged. In fact, being a good physician involves seeking appropriate help when needed. 

When illness or significant personal hardship prevents a student from meeting the requirements of his or her course of study, it is the policy of the College of Medicine to assist the student.  In some cases this may mean entering into a voluntary leave of absence (LOA) from the College of Medicine for the purpose of focusing on those matters requiring attention.  In circumstances where a student poses a threat to self or others or significantly disrupts the educational life of the community, the College of Medicine may impose an involuntary leave of absence. Prior to re-matriculation, the College of Medicine Dean’s Office will work with the student to establish readiness to resume academic work and to provide support where possible in order to optimize the likelihood of a successful return to University life.

The College of Medicine may place a student on involuntary leave of absence or require conditions for continued attendance when, as a result of an apparent medical or psychological condition, if one of the following transpires:

a. The student threatens the safety of him/herself or others.
b. The student causes or threatens to cause significant property damage.
c. The student significantly disrupts the educational or extracurricular activities of the University community.
d. The student demonstrates evidence of significant impairment and is unable to make an independent determination that a voluntary leave is needed.
e. The student has returned from voluntary leave, demonstrates continued evidence of significant impairment, and has not complied with the treatment plan submitted at the time of readmission.
f. The students acts unprofessional or has significant academic problems (such as failing courses or clerkships) secondary to the illness demonstrating its interference with the student’s ability to function as a medical student.

When a student exhibits any of the behaviors described above, he or she will be contacted by the College of Medicine Dean’s Office. The Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education, the Associate Dean for Students, or Progress Committee in consultation with appropriate medical, psychological, or academic resources, may place a student on involuntary leave of absence or place conditions on the student’s continued enrollment.

Students seeking readmission to the College of Medicine following involuntary leave must follow the same procedure as delineated for students returning following voluntary leave.  If a student is placed on involuntary leave, the Dean’s Office designee in consultation with appropriate campus resources will make a determination regarding the length of the leave and describe the conditions under which the student may seek to return from leave. A hold will be placed on the student’s registration by the Dean’s Office until the student has been granted readmission.

Under certain circumstances involving the safety of the student or the University community, the Dean’s Office will mandate that the student undergo a psychological or medical assessment with open lines of communication to allow a determination of readiness to return.

In some cases, medical issues (not limited to but including psychiatric conditions) may so adversely affect the student that severe academic or professionalism problems develop.  The student will first meet with either the Associate Dean of Students, Senior Associate Dean of Medical Education or designee. This meeting will occur in conjunction with the Director of Academics & Student Support.  In order to protect the student, community, and patients students may additionally be placed on a required behavioral monitoring contract in addition to a leave of absence as described above.   In some cases these problems are not severe or easily remediable.  In others (possibly due to the nature of the illness), the situation may be not be compatible with return to medical school (see last paragraph below). 

The Behavioral Monitoring plans may include but are not limited to:

1) Mandated treatment at Counseling and Psychological Services or outside provider
2) Required random drug and alcohol screening
3) Other required treatments as stipulated by clinicians caring for the student
4) Fitness for duty forensic evaluation
5) Open communication with providers to the extent an appropriate decision for readiness or not to return to school can be determined (Efforts will be made to minimize knowledge of confidential matters not related to the above)

All records concerning involuntary leaves of absence and behavioral monitoring contracts will be kept in the Dean’s Office and considered confidential. The student’s record will indicate “Leave of Absence” (LOA).

Several considerations will determine whether the student will be fit to return to school. These considerations could include but are not limited to: reports from treating physicians, interviews with Dean’s Office staff, and a fitness for duty evaluation.  Often open lines of communication with all parties help make that determination.  While all attempts will be made to ensure a student’s return to school if possible, the Dean’s Office also recognizes that even under the best circumstances some students may not become well enough to safely and professionally continue in medical school and thus may be dismissed. 

For additional issues specifically related to substance use, abuse, or dependence please the College of Medicine Substance Abuse Policy.

The College of Medicine respects the right to confidentiality of recovering students and will assist them to continue their education and employment. However, MUSC also respects the rights of patients and others and seeks to protect them from the harm that impaired students may cause. Hence, impaired (medical, psychiatric, or substance dependent) students who fail to cooperate with appropriate treatment programs or are too ill to continue on in their studies are subject to disciplinary actions up to and including dismissal as deemed appropriate by the Dean of the College of Medicine with input from the Progress Committee and/or the Associate Dean for Students.




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