The Office of Student Affairs is pleased to welcome you to the TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine for the 2020-2021 school year. Each of you are a part of an exceptionally talented student body, recognized for its diversity, creativity, innovative thinking, academic and non-academic achievements, and desire to become Empathetic ScholarsTM. We are pleased that you chose the School of Medicine to become the leaders of health care for the future. The student handbook will familiarize all students with the many aspects of the School of Medicine, including information pertaining to both of our parent institutions. In these pages, you will see descriptions of the services and activities available to students, as well as the policies and guidelines that govern our academic life and codes of student and professional conduct that are required of our students. Each student is required to review the content included in this handbook and abide by the policies and guidelines as outlined.
Within the Office of Student Affairs, our mission is to know our students, build community with our students, help to identify and remove barriers to their learning and thriving, and to partner with our students in the pursuit of successful careers in medicine. We accomplish this through our academic support services or the Student Success Initiative, the Physician Development Coaching Initiative, Career and Professional Development services, and medical student well-being support through the THRIVE Curriculum to undergird and support our students as they engage and progress within our curriculum. The Office of Student Affairs will continually build upon our mission and will be intentional and innovative in the pursuit of the most successful strategies to uplift and support our medical students in their pursuit of a career in medicine.
The Office of Student Affairs looks forward to supporting you holistically as an individual in your development as a learner through our units. Each of you are a valued and integral part of the School of Medicine. We welcome your lived experiences and identities as essential contributions to our collective community, and look forward to learning from you as we partner with you in your journey toward becoming an Empathetic ScholarTM.
Danika N. Franks, MD
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs
Our mission in the Office of Student Affairs is to facilitate an optimal environment and culture in which our medical students will thrive and experience success as they progress through their training.
While these functional experts may be found on both the TCU and UNTHSC campuses, the staff in the Office Student Affairs works closely with our colleagues. We encourage you to begin your student services search with the SOM Office of Student Affairs staff so that we may be able to direct and to refer you appropriately.
Career and Professional Development
The Director for Career and Professional Development, along with the Career and Professional Development Coordinator, will oversee the delivery of a robust Career and Professional Development program. This team will also supervise the advising system for the exploration and selection of medical specialties that will maximize our student’s competitiveness in the Match.
Counseling and Mental Health Services
Counseling and mental health services are provided to TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine enrolled students through the TCU Counseling and Mental Health Center (CMHC) as a service of the university and at no charge to students. The Counseling and Mental Health Center provides a variety of professional services, including short-term counseling, psychiatric consultation, and referrals. Counseling services are provided by licensed psychologists, licensed professional counselors, licensed social workers, and graduate level trainees under the supervision of a licensed staff therapist. Psychiatric services are provided by a board-certified consulting psychiatrist. Students are encouraged to schedule their healthcare appointments during the “white space” in the curriculum, but will be allowed an excused absence from educational hours for mental health and other healthcare needs.
For more information, visit TCU Counseling and Mental Health Center
TCU has created a page for students to assist in online learning, find it at TCU Keep Learning. There is also a dedicated IT help line specifically for the school of medicine. Trey Ivy and Lori Russell will be monitoring the calls for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic to help with urgent technology issues. The number is 817-257-8972. Normal IT call ticketing is still the recommended way of submitting most issues. To submit a ticket, visit it.tcu.edu
Early Academic Intervention, Academic Performance Improvement Plans, and Professionalism Improvement Plans
The educational affairs and student affairs teams work together to promote student academic success. Early intervention strategies and performance improvement plans provide guidance and resources that promote student success within the school of medicine curriculum. The purpose of these intervention strategies and plans is to define areas of concern, to provide resources, and to allow students the opportunity to demonstrate improvement in the identified areas. These strategies and plans are detailed below:
Early Intervention Strategy
Purpose: The early intervention strategy is implemented for students meeting one of the following conditions:
- A score of five (5) points above the passing cut score on (2) summative assessments in a- module or course at any time.
- Failure to achieve a passing score on a summative assessment in a module or course.
Students identified as having a score within the criteria listed above will be contacted by the Assistant Director for Student Success for early identification of needed support strategies. The focus of the meeting will center around assisting the learner to gain insight into the student’s self-directed learning process including:
- Encouraging students to share the entirety of their learning process
- Asking students to reflect on the perceived benefits of their process
- Asking students to reflect on perceived weaknesses in their process
- Reviewing evidence-based strategies that may be of benefit to the student to improve their learning and subsequent assessment performance.
In Phase 1, students failing to achieve a passing grade on a module or course summative assessment are eligible to retake the exam to achieve a passing grade. The Director of Assessment will contact the student to schedule the date to retake the exam and will notify the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, the Assistant Director for Student Success and the student’s Physician Development Coach. The Physician Development Coach will contact their student and schedule a check-in meeting. The focus of the check-in will be to coach the student in the development of a plan for approaching the exam retake in addition to other items that the student may want to coach through.
Phase 1 Early Intervention Professionalism Concern Plan
Purpose: This plan serves to support learners to meet the professionalism standards outlined by the SOM course syllabi, policies, and guidelines.
Early professionalism concerns include but are not limited to:
- Recurrent tardiness or absenteeism
- Late or incomplete assignments
- Habitual rescheduling LIC clinical sessions
- Recurrent unprofessional comments or dialogue noted in curricular settings
Upon identification of these behaviors and others identified within SOM policies, faculty, staff, and fellow students are encouraged to use SOM processes and resources to address the specific scenario. All witnessed instances of unprofessional behavior should be addressed in a timely fashion, most effectively in the moment, by providing direct feedback to the student. All behaviors of concern in addition to recurrent and/or egregious unprofessional behaviors should be reported to the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs. These behaviors may be addressed in multiple ways, including, but not limited to individual coaching, development of a Professionalism Improvement Plan (PrIP), or direct referral to the Student Progress and Promotion Committee (SPPC).
Performance Improvement Plan
Purpose: The Performance Improvement Plan serves as the academic support framework for students who receive a failing grade on two summative examinations or who have other performance or professionalism concerns that would benefit from a performance improvement plan .
In Phase 1, students failing to achieve a passing grade on a module or course summative assessment are eligible to retake the exam to achieve a passing grade. Students who receive two or more summative examination failures, even if the student passes the retake, will be placed on a performance improvement plan (PIP).
Students meeting criteria for placement on a PIP will be required to meet with the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and the Assistant Dean for Curriculum to review the plan and will be required to attest in writing to their agreement to uphold the tenets of the plan. The performance improvement plan will be individualized to the student and at a minimum will include the following requirements intended to maximize the student’s ability to achieve academic success:
- Meeting with their physician development coach
- Meeting with the student success navigator
- Meeting with identified faculty
- Refraining from leadership duties within student organizations
- Refraining from volunteer clinical duties
For students placed on a performance improvement plan solely for exam performance, students who demonstrate improvement in summative exam performance by more than five points above the cut score on two consecutive exams will be released from the performance improvement plan (PIP).
Students who have been released from a performance improvement plan will be placed on early intervention status if they meet criteria. Additionally, any student who has been released from the performance improvement plan will be placed on a new plan with any subsequent exam failures.
Financial Education and Scholarship
The school of medicine is dedicated to assisting medical students in understanding, applying for and securing financial aid for a medical education. Additionally, we are committed to personal financial wellness and deliver sessions in budgeting, debt management/repayment plans and strategies, amongst other topics at times that are important to your journey in and after medical school. Students are unique in their needs and we will do our best to work with any situation.
For more information, contact us at MDfinancialaid@tcu.edu
Physician Development Coaching Initiative
The Physician Development Coaching Program will pair each student with a coach upon their arrival. This coaching relationship will continue throughout their time spent at the school of medicine and will support the development of a professional identity in addition to monitoring the academic progress of our students.
Professional Resource Officer
The school of medicine is committed to the highest professional standards for its students, faculty and staff. Identifying and addressing professionalism concerns at an early stage, and through multiple channels, is vital to ensuring support for all.
The Office of the Professionalism Resource Officer (PRO) exists to receive professionalism concerns at any time from anyone regarding our faculty, staff and students. In addition to opportunities to approach school of medicine leadership, faculty and staff at any time, the school of medicine also provides a clear and simple means for students, faculty and staff to share concerns confidentially and/or anonymously. The PRO serves an essential and confidential role in addressing these concerns.
The PRO seeks to address professionalism lapses directly with the individual involved in a constructive, non-confrontational and confidential setting. If a professionalism concern rises to the level of a SOM policy violation, an honor code violation or a Title IX violation, the matter will be forwarded to the appropriate investigating body and the person(s) bringing the concern will be so notified if their identity is known to the PRO.
How to Contact the Professional Resource Officer
Mary Elizabeth Herring, J.D.
Professionalism Resource Officer
Student Disability Services
Student Affairs Student Success Guide to Disability Services
The TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine (SOM) complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 regarding students with disabilities. Applicants for admission and current students, with or without reasonable accommodations, must be able to satisfy the technical standards for acceptance into, progression through, and graduation from the school of medicine.
The TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine works in compliance with the disabilities services policy set forth by Texas Christian University (TCU). Newly admitted and current school of medicine students with documented disabilities can be considered for academic accommodations by following protocol laid out by Student Disability Services (SDS).
Accommodation-Request Procedure for Newly Admitted and Current SOM Students
- Accommodations are not retroactive; therefore, a student seeking an academic accommodation should contact the Assistant Director for Student Success in the Office of Student Affairs at the SOM to begin the process of being evaluated for accommodations for the current school term.
- Each eligible student must present Student Disability Services (SDS) at TCU with verifiable, professional documentation and/or assessment reports that meet the university’s official guidelines (see Documentation Requirements). The Office of Student Affairs’ Assistant Director for Student Success will assist school of medicine students with securing an appointment with SDS staff to begin the process of having their documentation evaluated.
- SDS staff will have the student complete an intake packet, which includes a procedures acknowledgment form, a release of information form, and a student information sheet, when they submit their documentation for accommodation consideration (Intake Appointment Fact Sheet).
- Documentation presented to the Student Disability Services Coordinator and/or their designee shall be reviewed by the appropriate university professional(s) to verify the existence of a disability.
- Each student’s application is handled on an individualized, case-by-case basis. The review is an interactive process, along with student input and dialogue using relevant documentation.
- Further documentation may be required to substantiate the claim of a disability or to assist the university in determining appropriate accommodations.
- The Student Disabilities Services coordinator and/or her designee shall prepare a letter to the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs at the school of medicine concerning specific, reasonable academic adjustments for the student.
- The student is responsible for promptly delivering the accommodation letter, conferring with the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, and returning the signed verification forms to the coordinator and/or her designee in SDS.
- The Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, in conjunction with the coordinator and/or their designee, will consult with the student and with school of medicine faculty and staff to ensure delivery of appropriate support services.
- The coordinator and/or her designee serve as a liaison between the student, the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, and the faculty members as needed.
Because the provision of accommodations and services is based upon assessment of the current impact of the condition(s) on academic performance and access to educational activities, it is in an individual’s best interest to provide recent and appropriate documentation.
Comprehensive documentation should include the following seven components:
- evidence of existing impairment;
- background information (e.g., current and previous history, interview, review of records, etc.);
- relevant testing;
- specific diagnosis;
- rule-out of alternative diagnoses or explanations;
- rationale for accommodations request that is appropriate to postsecondary settings; and
- school plans, such as a history of accommodation from (a) previous institution(s), an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), a Summary of Performance (SOP), or a Section 504 Plan, are useful but may not, in and of themselves, be sufficient documentation to establish the rationale for accommodations.
SDS generally requires documentation of a disability from within the last three years. For students with physical/systemic disabilities, mental health disabilities, cognitive disabilities (such as traumatic brain injury), and other disabilities that are subject to frequent change or are impacted by medication or other treatments, documentation should be current and within the past 6-12 months (determination will be made on a case-by-case basis).
Evaluation for Disabilities
Students who have never been evaluated for a disability or those in need of updated documentation must be assessed by a qualified provider/evaluator.
The name, title, and professional credentials of the provider/evaluator, including information about license or certification (e.g., a licensed psychologist), the area of specialization, employment, and the state/province in which the individual practices, should be clearly stated in the documentation.
Student Disability Services can assist students in finding a qualified professional for assessment. Contact SDS at email@example.com for assistance obtaining appropriate documentation.
Students who wish to appeal a decision regarding appropriate accommodations shall do so in writing to the Chief Inclusion Officer/Title IX Coordinator, who shall decide the appeal.
- The Chief Inclusion Officer/Title IX Coordinator’s decision may be appealed within 7 calendar days in writing to the TCU Provost, whose decision may be appealed within an additional 7 calendar days in writing to the TCU Chancellor.
- At any step during such an appeal, the person requesting the appeal may confidentially consult with appropriate professionals/advisors within or outside of the university.
Accommodations and Implications for USMLE
The United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®), the three-step examination for medical licensure in the U.S., provides reasonable and appropriate accommodations in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for individuals with documented disabilities.
The USMLE provides general guidelines for requesting accommodations, which includes submission of the Request for Test Accommodation Form, a personal statement, an evaluation by a qualified professional, and relevant objective records of impaired functioning. Receiving accommodations during undergraduate medical education does not guarantee that a student will receive USMLE accommodations.
In its consideration of accommodation requests, the USMLE relies heavily on records of demonstrated impaired function, making it important for School of Medicine students to seek approval for and utilize accommodations early in their medical education.
- What is a disability?
- What if my documentation is out of date?
- Are there specific requirements for documentation depending on the disability?
- What credentials must the provider doing the disability assessment have?
- What should I expect when I have an intake appointment with Student Disability Services?
- TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine students seeking educational accommodations for documented disabilities should contact the Assistant Director for Student Success within the Office of Student Affairs at the SOM for assistance securing an appointment with Student Disability Services (SDS) at TCU main campus to begin the process.
- Student Disability Services will require students seeking consideration for accommodations to complete and submit an intake packet at their first appointment. The intake packet includes a procedures acknowledgment form, a release of information form, and a student information sheet.
- Student Disability Services will review submitted documentation to verify proof of disability. Student Disability Services may request additional documentation from the student for proper consideration.
- If it is determined that the student has a documented disability, the Student Disability Services Coordinator will prepare a letter outlining specific, reasonable academic adjustments for the student.
- The student must present the letter received from Student Disability Services to the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs at the TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine.
- The Assistant Dean for Student Affairs will coordinate with the student, the Assistant Dean for Curriculum, the Assistant Dean for Assessment, and course directors to ensure that outlined accommodations are in place.
- The Assistant Director for Student Success will document the school of medicine’s accommodation plan and will keep it on file until it expires or is amended on advisement from Student Disability Services.
Student-Parent Resource Guide
Click here to view the most recent Student-Parent Resource Guide
Student Records, Registration and Credentialing
The school of medicine is dedicated to protecting student records and other data collected throughout medical school. Students are required to maintain credentialing documentation (i.e. immunizations, criminal background, and clinical paperwork) for continued enrollment and clinical rotations, so it is important that students adhere to all requests in a timely manner. Our office also verifies enrollment status for loan deferments, jury duty, insurance discounts, in addition to official transcripts and other documents required for medical licensure.
For more information, contact us at MDrecords@tcu.edu.
Student Success Navigation
The TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine Student Success academic-support program is a comprehensive and collaborative team-based advising model intended to help students thrive in our innovative, problem-based-learning curriculum. The Student Success team assists students in finding the strategies and processes best suited for their learning, retention, and application of material presented in the curriculum. Our goal is to help students develop and improve individualized skills they continue to utilize as medical practitioners and lifelong learners.
Physician Development Coaches are the first members of the Student Success team new enrollees meet. Upon enrollment, each student is assigned a Learning Community led by two Physician Development Coaches. Coaches monitor their students’ academic progress and encourage professional identity formation by meeting frequently with students to review their progress, identify resources, and plan for next steps.
Coaches may advise students (or students can make an appointment on their own) to see a Student Success Navigator. This member of the Student Success team is a learning specialist whose role is to help students find and employ the best methods and strategies for their learning. Student Success Navigators are not medical-content experts; they complement the critical-thinking and advanced-processing skillset the TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine curriculum provides its graduates.
The Student Success program also facilitates a peer-tutoring program, which employs second-year medical students to serve as academic mentors for first-year students. Peer tutors further the mission of the Student Success program by focusing their support efforts on process and learning improvement.
Thrive: Medical Student Wellness
The TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine has developed the THRIVE wellness curriculum. THRIVE is the longitudinal, integrated and collaborative system of instruction, learning and support for the School of Medicine students focusing on their well-being.
Veterans Services is committed to ensuring that military and veteran students successfully make the transition from the military environment to campus life, and are assisted in their progress toward completing their academic degree. For more information, see TCU Veterans Services