Irregular Behavior

Irregular Behavior

What is at stake when a medical student, medical school graduate or medical professional receives a letter informing them that they are alleged to have engaged in irregular behavior? Put simply, everything. The permanence of such a finding, in the face of all the years of education, financial obligation and hard work devoted toward building a career in medicine, can be devastating. A finding of irregular behavior can result in disciplinary action taken by the Educational Commission on Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG®), the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME), the National Residency Match Program (NRMP) and other gatekeepers to a career in medicine. It often serves to impede admission to or retention in a residency program, and can disrupt the timely processing of applications for medical licenses or medical staff privileges. It follows a medical professional for the rest of his or her career.  

We take very seriously the consequences of irregular behavior allegations, and represent medical students, residents, interns, fellows and practitioners facing the full range of administrative and legal actions, including committee hearing appearances, license and board certification applications and hearings, credentialing hearings, and civil and administrative hearings. We help ensure that any investigations or disputes are handled fairly and that our clients’ rights are upheld.  When representing our clients before hearing and credentialing committees, we advocate that no finding of irregular behavior be made, or, where appropriate, that the punishment accompanying such a finding be proportionate and fair. In all proceedings, we are mindful to preserve the record for potential subsequent judicial review.

Our attorneys have:

  • Represented numerous physicians in disputes regarding board certifications and certification eligibility.
  • Obtained an injunction against the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, resulting in the reinstatement of a physician’s ECFMG certificate.
  • Defended a physician alleged to have engaged in irregular behavior, resulting in no adverse action taken against the physician by ECFMG, NRMP or the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS).
  • Represented foreign medical graduates in disputes with the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).
  • Represented physicians in disputes with the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) and United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE).

ECFMG

International medical graduates (IMGs) interested in completing their residency or a fellowship in the United States, in nearly all circumstances, must obtain certification through the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG®). Further, all IMGs must obtain ECFMG certification before being permitted to enter Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) residency programs. Certification may only be obtained after obtaining passing scores on USMLE Step 1, Step 2 CK and Step 2 CS examinations, and then only after international medical degrees are confirmed through an elaborate source verification process. For a graduate of an international medical school, ECFMG certification is the critical prerequisite for training to practice medicine in the United States.

We assist IMGs in their dealings and disputes with the ECFMG and represent international medical students and graduates in administrative actions and allegations of irregular behavior before the ECFMG’s Medical Education Credentials Committee (MECC). In so doing, we help ensure that any investigations or disputes are handled fairly and that our clients’ rights are upheld. When representing our clients before the MECC, we advocate that no finding of irregular behavior be made, or, where appropriate, that the punishment accompanying such a finding be proportionate and fair. We are always mindful to preserve the record for potential subsequent judicial review.

Our office is one of the few law firms in the country with substantial experience in representing and defending international medical students and IMGs against allegations of irregular behavior. We have successfully defended such allegations on numerous occasions, and have also successfully petitioned a court to grant an injunction against ECFMG on behalf of our physician client, resulting in the immediate reinstatement of that physician’s ECFMG certificate.

NBME

Thousands of medical students — trained in the United States or elsewhere — take the three-step exam required by the United States Medical Licensing Examinations (USMLE) and administered by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) and its partner organizations. All too often, many applicants and examinees accused of irregular behavior are unaware of and/or fail to take the proper steps to defend themselves, not realizing the gravity of a confirmed finding of irregular behavior.  Such a finding, in addition to following a medical professional for the rest of his or her career, can result in invalidated test scores, reports made to the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), a bar from sitting for future examinations for period of time, or, in extreme cases, being prohibited from taking future exams.

Our office is one of the few law firms in the country with substantial experience in representing medical students, medical school graduates (including IMGs) and physicians in disputes with the USMLE Program and NBME in connection with allegations of irregular behavior. We represent medical students, residents, interns, fellows and other practitioners facing administrative actions and allegations of irregular behavior, assisting those clients in responding to the allegations and appearing with our clients before the Committee on Individualized Review (CIR).  We help ensure that any investigations or disputes are handled fairly and that our clients’ rights are upheld. When representing our clients before the CIR, we advocate that no finding of irregular behavior be made, or, where appropriate, that the punishment accompanying such a finding be proportionate and fair, always mindful to preserve the record for potential subsequent judicial review.

USMLE

The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Program, through its three-step examination process, is the gatekeeper to United States medical licenses. The National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) and its partner organizations aggressively pursue all individuals who seek to subvert the examination process, and do not hesitate to bring allegations of irregular behavior where they believe the sanctity of the examination process has been put at risk. A finding of irregular behavior, in addition to following a medical professional for the rest of his or her career, can result in invalidated test scores, a bar from sitting for future examinations for period of time, or, in extreme cases, being prohibited from taking future exams. All too often, many accused of irregular behavior are unaware of and/or fail to take the proper steps to defend themselves, not realizing the gravity of a confirmed finding.

We represent medical students, residents, interns, fellows and other practitioners facing administrative actions and allegations of irregular behavior before the USMLE Program and NBME, including matters brought before its Committee on Individualized Review (CIR). We help ensure that any investigations or disputes are handled fairly and that our clients’ rights are upheld. When representing our clients before the CIR, we advocate that no finding of irregular behavior be made, or, where appropriate, that the punishment accompanying such a finding be proportionate and fair. We are always mindful to preserve the record for potential subsequent judicial review.

Our office is one of the few law firms in the country with substantial experience in representing medical students, medical school graduates (including IMGs), and physicians in disputes with the USMLE Program and NBME in connection with allegations of irregular behavior.  

NRMP

All too often, residency-match applicants find themselves accused of violating of the National Resident Matching Program’s (NRMP) Match Participation Agreement. Confirmation of a violation can bring about steep penalties, resulting in the creation of a Final Report detailing the participant’s alleged transgressions, which Final Report is sent to the applicant’s medical school, the American Board of Medical Specialties, any potential residency programs interested in the applicant, and the Federation of State Medical Boards, among other organizations. In certain cases, a participant may be barred from taking part in The Match® or programs associated with The Match® for up to three years or, in extreme circumstances, permanently. Allegations of a potential Match Violation are serious matters that can place a medical school graduate’s years of hard work and financial commitment in jeopardy.    

We represent medical students, residents, interns, fellows and other practitioners facing allegations of Match Violation before the NRMP. We help ensure that any investigations or disputes are handled fairly, assist in the preparation of responses to the NRMP, and represent clients at arbitration where necessary and appropriate.

Consult with our experienced attorneys about your case.