MD: Formal Appeal Procedures for Competency Attainment and Promotion Decisions

This procedure applies to all medical doctorate students at Washington University School of Medicine enrolled in the Gateway Curriculum. 

The School of Medicine recognizes that the primary responsibility for academic evaluation with respect to student competency attainment resides within the Competency Attainment Committee (CAC) in partnership with the Clerkship Competency Committees (CCCs). Final decisions regarding promotion resides with Committee for Academic Promotion (CAP).  

Procedures of Competency Attainment and Subsequent Decisions

The interests of competency attainment are best resolved with early identification and support. Thus, concerns regarding student trajectory that may not support competency attainment should be recognized early and referred to the Student Success Team by the appropriate and responsible parties including but not limited to the Assistant Dean for Assessment, a coach, the Associate Dean for Student Affairs (ADSA), the CAC, the CCCs, or the course or clerkship lead.

For further details of the policies surrounding student promotion and review of competency attainment, please refer to the Policies & Guidelines of the School of Medicine in this Bulletin. 

Decisions and Recommendations for Which Students May Appeal

  • CAP decisions to ratify recommendations of adverse promotion outcomes which include remediation without promotion, suspension, or dismissal 
  • Decisions of competence without distinction (where distinction is available) 

The appeal shall be limited to determining whether (i) bias and/or failure to follow the standard processes of competency determination occurred or (ii) new information or evidence exists that was not reasonably available at the time of the decision and that could affect the outcome of their decision.  

Students are encouraged to present themselves, in person or writing, to the Chair of the CAC and/or the Clerkship Director, as appropriate, when questions or concerns around decisions and recommendations surface to gain clarity. Students may also present themselves, in person or in writing, to the CAP prior to their final ratification. All of these steps occur prior to a formal appeal.

Process for Students Wishing to File Appeals for Decisions of Competence Without Distinction

When the CAP receives a decision for competence without distinction, students may file a formal appeal of that decision if they feel that bias and/or failure to follow the standard processes occurred or new information or evidence exists that was not available at the time of the decision and that affected the outcome or decision. The procedure for appeals in these circumstances is as follows: 

  • Students complete the QualtricsXM form within seven calendar days of notification of the decision of competence without distinction. The form, which will be sent to the Registrar, the ADSA, and Chair of the CAP, with a copy to the student, will require the student to complete the following details: 
    • Decision being appealed 
    • Reason for appeal (i.e., bias and/or failure to follow the standard processes of competency determination or new information or evidence exists that was not reasonably available at the time of the decision and that could affect the outcome)
  • The ADSA or their representative will contact the student to support the full development of the appeal, which will provide a detailed description of the basis for the appeal and pertinent documentation to support the basis for the appeal, including, in the situation of new information not available at the time, an explanation as to why that information was not available, when possible.  
  • Completed appeal documentation must be received by the Chair of the CAP within 14 calendar days of the original notification of a decision for competency without distinction. 
  • The ADSA shall provide the request and documentation (student documentation and all meeting minutes and written recommendations/decisions) to the CAP for review. 
  • The student may present themselves to the CAP, in person or in writing, prior to CAP ratification. 
  • Following review, the CAP may make any of the following recommendations: 1) ratify and uphold the decision; 2) remand back to the original committee for re-review; or 3) overturn the decision if the committee perceives an inability for the original committee to make an unbiased recommendation. 
  • This is the final level of appeal for a decision of competence without distinction.  

Process for Students Wishing to File Appeals for Decisions of Adverse Outcomes

Given the significant nature of decisions of adverse outcomes, when the CAP ratifies such recommendations, students may file a formal appeal of that decision if they feel that bias and/or failure to follow the standard processes or new information or evidence exists that was not available at the time of the decision that would have affected the outcome or decision. The procedure for appeals in these circumstances is as follows: 

  • Students complete the QualtricsXM form within seven calendar days of notification of the CAP decision. The form, which will be sent to the Registrar, the ADSA, and the Chair of the CAP, with a copy to the student, will require the student to complete the following details: 
    • Decision being appealed 
    • Reason for appeal (i.e., bias and/or failure to follow the standard processes of competency determination or new information or evidence exists that was not reasonably available at the time of the decision and that could affect the outcome)
  • The ADSA or their representative will contact the student to support the full development of the appeal, which will provide a detailed description of the basis for the request and pertinent documentation to support the basis for the appeal, including, in the situation of new information not available at the time, an explanation as to why that information was not available, when possible. Completed appeal documentation must be received by the Chair of the Appeal Committee within 14 calendar days of the original CAP decision. 
  • The ADSA will convene an ad hoc three-member Appeal Committee. Members involved in the original CAC, CCC, or CAP decisions shall not be involved in the appeals process. Appeal Committee members should have familiarity with the curricular and/or assessment processes of the Gateway Curriculum. 
  • The ADSA shall provide the request and documentation (i.e., student documentation and CAC, CCC, and/or CAP meeting minutes and written recommendations/decisions) to the Appeal Committee for review. 
  • The student will be allowed to present themselves before the ad hoc committee. The committee may request additional materials or discuss processes for decision making and recommendations with appropriate persons. The Chair of the Appeal Committee may also limit the information to be considered based on the scope of the appeal. No representatives from outside the School of Medicine, family members, or individuals with a conflict of interest* are permitted to participate in or communicate with any members of the Appeal Committee regarding the process or final decision. The student may be accompanied by a support person, which may be a School of Medicine faculty member, staff member, or student. The support person may not present information or make comment. 
  • Following review, the Appeal Committee may make any of the following recommendations: 1) ratify and uphold the CAP decision; 2) remand back to the CAP for re-review; or 3) overturn the decision of the CAP if the committee perceives an inability for the original committee to make an unbiased recommendation. 
  • The ad hoc Appeal Committee will communicate its final decision within 14 calendar days of the conclusion of the appeal meeting to the student, the ADSA, the Assistant Dean for Assessment, the CAP Chair, the Registrar, and any other parties deemed necessary. In the case of dismissal, this will be communicated to the Dean or their designee for final review and approval. 

Please review the Steps in the Formal Appeal Process for CAP Decisions (PDF) for more information.