Cheating, Irregular Behavior and Other Maladies Plaguing Future Physicians: A Two-Part Series

The road to becoming a physician is paved with many unique challenges. The uphill battle begins with rigorous undergraduate course work, followed by the MCAT and medical school applications. Upon acceptance into medical school, the USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination) and its STEP 1 and STEP 2 exams provide another hurdle. At any of these stages, a student can be accused of numerous faults including cheating, misrepresentation, falsification of information, unfair advantages and the many faces of “irregular behavior.”

Today’s post focuses on the challenges imposed on a student prior to entering medical school. On Friday, the implications of various forms of “misconduct” for med students will be dissected (including USMLE irregular behavior and the case of NBME and FSMB v. Optima University LLC).

Prior to medical school, pre-med students must be ambitious, inquisitive and extra cautious about any disciplinary action. A minor blemish on a pre-med student’s academic record (from academic dishonesty or other accusations), will become a major red flag once that student begins the process of applying to med school. Not only will any kind of discipline record hinder a student’s chances of acceptance into med school, an infraction can also ruin that student’s reputation as they apply for residency and beyond.

Because the process of becoming a physician is difficult without having a discipline record, any  charge against a pre-med student must be taken with the upmost seriousness. If a student is accused of any kind of inflammatory behavior (cheating, academic dishonesty, plagiarizing, misrepresentation of information, falsification of information, etc.) that student needs to immediately try to correct the accusation. If a professor or another student is responsible for the accusation, the accused can try to fix the situation by meeting with the accuser before it advances. However, if this fails and the complaint is taken to a higher administration, it is best for the student to consult a legal expert who can represent them in front of an academic committee.

Often, these cases can be resolved informally,through negotiation or mediation. However, occasionally it is necessary that a civil suit be filed against the school, in order to protect the reputation of the student and prevent retaliation. The student must discuss what legal route will work best for their case in order to have the best chances of a positive outcome.

If a pre-med student makes it through undergrad without any kind of discipline record, there is still a chance that something could go wrong during the MCAT, leading to an investigation by the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges).

In the event that a student is accused of cheating on the MCAT or disruptive behavior during the test administration resulted in a voided test, it is best for the student to seek legal representation. If a student takes no action, or fails to correct the situation independently, they may be banned from taking the MCAT and have no chance of entering medical school.

After surpassing each obstacle on the way to med school acceptance, students may still be presented with a challenge during the admissions process. Students attempting to be admitted to medical school who are wrongfully denied for various reasons, need to seek legal advice. In one case, a student who was a whistle blower found himself being the subject of retaliation by a medical school professor for whom he had worked in college. After seeking legal counsel, this student was successful in countering the retaliation of the medical school professor and was admitted to the medical school of his choice.

Becoming a physician may be challenging, but the results can be rewarding and worth any sacrifices. A clean slate during your days as a pre-med student will pay off during your medical school admissions cycle and beyond. For more information visit or read this article concerning Education Law.

New MCAT Will Put the Social Skills of Potential Doctors to the Test

4 Indest-2009-3By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

The 8,200 aspiring doctors expected to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) this year will be seeing a different exam than their predecessors.

The doctor-patient dynamic is changing. So, to stay on top of this shift in the health care industry, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) announced in April 2015, the first major revision to the MCAT in 25 years. This test is the first high-stake exam encountered by physicians. The big difference physician hopefuls will notice is that the new test assesses social aptitude and not just hard science.

The New MCAT.

There are some old reliables on the MCAT that are here to stay. The exam will still test on biological sciences and physical sciences.

Here’s what has changed:

– Students will have more questions to answer, but more time to complete each question;

– The new MCAT adds a section covering introductory psychology, sociology and neuroscience;

– The MCAT has replaced its old section on “verbal reasoning” with a broader test of comprehension in the humanities and social sciences;

– The test has eliminated the essay;

– There is a new emphasis on research, including designing studies and analyzing their results;

– The scoring for the new test will be different; and

– Scores for each of the four sections of the MCAT will be reported separately, so medical schools can emphasize or de-emphasize some parts if they choose.

The AAMC created 900 free videos to help students prepare for the new test. To review those videos, click here.

What This Means for Test Takers?

According to a press release from the AAMC, the new MCAT test is part of a broader effort to improve the medical school admission process and to support the holistic review of applicants, which balances experiences, attributes and academic metrics. To read the press release from the AAMC, click here.

There has been a paradigm shift in medical education to acknowledge the competencies physicians need beyond medical knowledge. Doctors now need to possess a broad set of skills that will treat the whole patient. The new exam reflects these changes. It should be obvious that a good physician is well-rounded with many skills that stretch far beyond basic sciences. These proficiencies are now being tested and emphasized at an earlier age.

Regardless of the changes, the same keys to succeeding as a physician applicant will apply: strong grades, competitive MCAT scores, well-rounded extracurricular activities, outstanding recommendation letters, and a promising interview.


What are your thoughts on the new MCAT test? Do you think testing more than just basic science on the MCAT is a positive change or unnecessary? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.


Diamond, Dan. “For the New Doctors We Need, The New MCAT Isn’t Enough.” Forbes. (April 22, 2015). From:

Beck, Melinda. “Medical-College Entrance Exam Gets an Overhaul.” Wall Street Journal. (April 15, 2015). From:

Association of American Medical Colleges. “Future Physicians Take New Medical College Admission Test.” (April 20, 2015). From:

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1999-2015 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

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