Fitness for Duty Evaluation and Review Policy

Medical Students (M.D.)

Policy ID Number: N/A
Policy Title: Fitness for Duty Policy
Classification: University
Approval Authority: Student Progress Committee
Responsible Entity: College of Medicine
Policy Owner: College of Medicine Group on Student Affairs


I. Policy Statement

 

All students of the College of Medicine must meet the Technical Standards and demonstrate fitness for duty. The Fitness for Duty Policy covers only those situations in which a student is having observable difficulty performing their academic and professional responsibilities in an effective manner or is posing a serious safety threat to self or others. The policy prescribes the circumstances under which a student may be referred to an independent, licensed health care evaluator for a fitness for duty evaluation should either of those situations be present. Fitness for Duty evaluations are used to determine if a student's academic or behavioral performance is affected by impairment that includes but is not limited to: medical, behavioral or substance abuse issues. A student shall not be allowed to continue in school unless the student maintains a fitness for duty required for the safe performance of, with or without reasonable accommodation. Each student is required to report in an emotional, mental and physical condition necessary to perform their academic and clinical responsibilities in a safe and satisfactory manner.

II. Scope

This policy applies to Medical University of South Carolina College of Medicine students enrolled in the MD degree and dual degree programs.

III. Approval Authority

Student Progress Committee

IV. Purpose of This Policy

Students must meet the standards of fitness for duty throughout their enrollment in the program. The policy outlines the expectations for students who are required to complete a fitness for duty evaluation, the role of the Progress Committee in reviewing the evaluations. The policy also outlines the responsibilities and procedures related to the fitness for duty evaluation.

V. Who Should Be Knowledgeable about This Policy

College of Medicine MD and dual degree students
College of Medicine Faculty
College of Medicine deans and administrative staff

VI. The Policy

The College of Medicine may require a Fitness for Duty evaluation when:

  • There is a referral that creates a concern of a threat to the health or safety of the student or others, or to University property; or,
  • Students demonstrated observable difficulty performing their academic and professional responsibilities in an effective manner.
  • There is a referral that the student cannot fulfill the Technical Standards

A student may be placed on a leave of absence during the course of the Fitness for Duty evaluative process.

Fit for Duty Evaluation Logistics

  1. The cost(s) for the initial required Fitness for Duty evaluation will be the responsibility of the College of Medicine Dean’s Office.
  2. The cost(s) for any subsequent evaluations and/or treatment will be the sole responsibility of the student.
  3. A Fitness for Duty evaluation report will be considered valid for up to six months after the date of the report if there are no new or continuing concerns. After six months a new evaluation may be required.

Responsibilities & Procedures

1. Any individual with concerns about student impairment shall notify the designated Associate Dean for Student Affairs.

2. The Associate Dean for Student Affairs will notify the Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education and present the matter to the College of Medicine Student Progress Committee for review, action and notification to the Dean.

3. The College of Medicine Student Progress Committee receives referral of a student experiencing and/or demonstrating serious academic or behavioral deficiencies that interfere with performing the essential functions set forth in the Technical Standards for Admission, Retention and Graduation or creates a concern for the health and safety of the student, others or university property.

4. The College of Medicine Student Progress Committee will request that the student meet with the committee in accordance with the College of Medicine Student Progress, Promotion, and Probation Policy. At that meeting, the committee will review the referral and make a determination if a Fitness for Duty evaluation is required.

5. Fitness for Duty evaluations will be conducted by an independent, non-University affiliated physician or psychologist selected by the College of Medicine Dean’s Office.

6. The designated Associate Deans for Student Affairs will provide the pertinent information to the evaluator(s) selected to perform the Fitness for Duty evaluation.

7. The evaluator will generate a written Fitness for Duty report addressed to the Associate Dean for Student Affairs regarding the student's ability to perform the essential functions and relevant recommendations.

8. When the Fitness for Duty evaluation is received, it will be forwarded to the Chair of the College of Medicine Student Progress Committee may request the student meet with the committee. The committee will consider the report and make a determination regarding the status of the student and any requirements for enrollment.

9. Options for action for a student who is determined not fit for duty by the College of Medicine Student Progress Committee include but are not limited to: medical leave of absence; personal leave of absence; and/or, dismissal or denial of reinstatement as a student.

10. A student who refuses a Fitness for Duty evaluation will not be permitted to continue in the curriculum and may be dismissed from the College of Medicine in accord with the College of Medicine Student Progress, Promotion, and Probation Policy.

11. The Fitness for Duty evaluation and all written records regarding the decisions and determinations of the College of Medicine Student Progress Committee will be kept in the student's academic file secured in the Office of Student Affairs.

12. Once we receive the evaluation by the College of Medicine Dean’s Office, it is no longer HIPAA protected; instead protected by FERPA.

VII. Special situations

Describe any special situations where the policy might not apply or considerations where the policy might require a single instance where non-compliance is acceptable.

VIII. Sanctions for Non-compliance

Describe what penalty or actions will be taken if the policy is not followed.

IX. Related Information

A. Definitions

Fitness for Duty Evaluation
An evaluation is used to determine the student's ability to perform their academic and clinical duties responsibly and safely; meaning that they are not a danger to patients, colleagues or self. The Fitness for Duty evaluation is not a confidential clinical encounter between the student and evaluator.

Impairment
Impairment(s) that may affect a student's academic or behavioral performance includes, but is not limited to: medical, behavioral, or substance abuse issues.

Essential Functions Requirement for Admission, Promotion, Continuation and Graduation
All accepted candidates to the College of Medicine are required to attest to their ability to fulfill the Technical Standards for Admission, Retention and Graduation as a contingency of their admission to and continued enrollment at MUSC.

Referral
Any communication received by the Associate Deans for Student Affairs regarding concerns that a student's academic or behavioral performance may be affected by impairment.

Student Progress Committee
The College of Medicine Student Progress Committee is charged with overseeing the personal and professional development of medical students.

Fitness for Duty Report
A written report provided by the independent, non-University affiliated physician or psychologist that was selected by the College of Medicine Dean’s Office and conducted the evaluation. The report is addressed to the designated Associate Dean for Student Affairs regarding the student's ability to perform the essential functions and relevant treatment.

Notification
Any and all notifications must be made in writing. Email communication satisfies that requirement.

B. Other
N/A

C. Appendices
N/A

X. Communication Plan

Students enrolled in COM courses will be educated about this policy at their orientation to the preclerkship and clinical years as well as any time a substantial update occurs. All faculty are asked to review key policies related to education on an annual basis. Course directors will be notified annually via email to review the policy and more often if substantial changes are adopted.

XI. Definitions

Define key terms used within the policy.

XII. Review Cycle

Every 2 years or sooner if indicated by program changes.

XIII. Approval History

List original approval date and subsequent review dates

Approval Authority Date Approved
Student Progress Committee January 2012
Student Progress Committee July 25, 2019


XIV. Approval Signature

Donna Kern, MD July 25, 2019
Title: Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education