Report #323

DATE: March 13, 2008
PARTIES: Dr. C.B. (the Student) v. the Faculty of Medicine


Hearing Date(s): February 15, 2008

Committee Members:
Professor Emeritus Ralph Scane (Chair)
Professor Jan Angus
Professor Douglas Reeve
Ms Lorenza Sisca
Ms Maureen Somerville

Secretaries:
Ms Nancy Smart, Judicial Affairs Officer
Ms Mette Mai

Appearances:

For the Student:
Dr. C.B. (the Student)

For the Faculty of Medicine:
Ms Sari Springer (Counsel)
Dr. David Tannenbaum
Dr. K. Iglar

Faculty of Medicine – re-instatement in program – dismissal from Family and Community Medicine Residency Training Program – policy that the Academic Appeals Committee cannot remark examinations or papers evaluated by examiners appointed by University also applies for clinical assessments – Academic Appeals Committee cannot interfere with the judgment of the Faculty on the grounds that the judgment was wrong if fairly arrived at – no evidence of bias or lack of objectivity – stress not considered a mitigating factor to poor academic performance when arising from awareness of adverse evaluations putting the student’s future at the University in jeopardy – family problems could not excuse performance difficulties noted – Breach of s.5.2.5 of the Guidelines for the Evaluation of Postgraduate Trainees of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto not sufficient ground to reinstate the Student in the program – Appeal dismissed – recommendation that the Faculty establish a formal mechanism for dealing with situations when the Board of Examiners is not scheduled to meet in the immediate future

Appeal from a recommendation of the Residency Program Committee of the Department of Family and Community Medicine that the Student be dismissed from the Family and Community Medicine Residency Training Program. Student received adverse evaluations indicating he fell below the expected level of first year residents and that he had confrontational problems with staff and a lack of insight as to his problems. The Committee stated that the policy that it cannot remark examinations or papers that have been evaluated by the examiners appointed by the University also applies for clinical assessments that are part of the evaluation process and the Committee cannot interfere with the judgment of the Faculty on the grounds that the judgment was wrong, if it had been fairly arrived at. The Committee found no evidence of bias or lack of objectivity which might make the evaluations of the Student unreliable. The Committee stated that it will not consider stress and its secondary manifestations as mitigating factors to poor academic performance when the stress arises from a student’s awareness that she or he is receiving adverse evaluations which are putting the student’s future at the University in jeopardy. The Committee considered the stressful and distracting effects of family problems which afflicted the Student during the residency periods and found that they could not excuse the types of performance difficulties noted by the Faculty’s evaluators. The Faculty breached s.5.2.5 of the Guidelines for the Evaluation of Postgraduate Trainees of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto requiring that all periods of remediation must include a written mid–point evaluation. The Committee found that while deviation from a Board of Examiners stipulation as to a particular student is a grave matter, serious breaches do not necessarily warrant overturning an academic verdict. The Committee considered the other evidence submitted and found that the effect of the procedural breach by the Faculty was not a sufficient ground to reinstate the Student in the program. Appeal dismissed. The Committee recommended that if the Board of Examiners is to meet only at fairly distant intervals, the Faculty should establish a formal mechanism for dealing with situations, ordinarily dealt with by the full Board, which may arise when the Board is not scheduled to meet in the immediate future.