Accrediting body puts Medical School on probation

Friday, Oct. 17

An academic accreditation organization has put GW’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences on probation for failing to meet several regulations, university officials announced Wednesday.

After an accreditation review, the Liaison Committee on Medical Education said the school had problems in several areas, “including curriculum management, lounge and study space for students, and internal administrative processes,” according to a news release from the Medical School. Medical school officials have declined to make the report public.

“There were certainly no indications before (LCME) came and visited us last February,” School of Medicine Dean Jim Scott said in an interview. Scott said the school received a preliminary notice of probation in June and spent the summer drafting an appeal to the decision and a plan to improve issues highlighted in the report. On Tuesday, SMHS was notified that LCME affirmed their original decision to put the school on probation.

SMHS, which has about 700 students, is still accredited but must make improvements in the areas within the next two years, as stipulated by the Department of Education. The school has set a one-year timeline for itself, officials said.

A Washington Post article stated that SMHS is now the only school on probation with the LCME, and the fifth medical school since 1994 to be put on probation. Others include the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, University of Saskatchewan and Temple University.

No medical school has lost its LCME accreditation after probation; loosing accreditation would invalidate the program.

Scott said that one of the most critical of the factors was curriculum management, which he defined as “crafting objectives in a way that are more manageable in measuring outcomes, and creating a structure to measure and review the curriculum.”

“We really do take this seriously and see it as a process to come out of this a better medical school,” Scott said. “We understand the seriousness . embrace this fully, and plan to use it as an opportunity to become better.”

On their Web site, LCME defines probation as “such a determination may be based on the LCME’s judgment that areas of noncompliance have seriously compromised the quality of the medical education program, or that the program has failed to make satisfactory progress in achieving compliance after having been granted ample opportunity to do so.” The accreditation organization also requires that medical schools meet all of their 130 standards.

Dan Hunt, the senior director of accreditation services at LCME, said that being put on probation often affects the reputation of the school.

“(The probation status) is without a doubt a painfully negative thing . to say it’s not negative would be unfair to those who are going to experience it,” Hunt said.

Many students interviewed, such as third year medical student Benjamin Good, said they are disappointed, but emphasized that they do not feel this decision will have much bearing on their futures.

“We’re.frustrated that it came to this,” Good said. “The standards by which the schools are evaluated are available online. It seems like all of this could have been avoided.”

He added, “We also recognize that we’re going to be okay; everyone is still going to be a doctor.”

Tim Amass, president of the class for third-year medical students, said student reactions have covered the spectrum “from frustration and concern to understanding.”

“Legitimately, there is the understanding that we are still accredited, and this will have little effect on us professionally,” Amass said. “I think that on the emotional side of it, there’s always the worry.”

He added that probation is something that might affect the way potential students approach GW’s medical school.

“Had this been going on at GW, it would have made me take a closer look,” Amass said. “But can’t say it would have turned me away from the school.”

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