SMHS addresses recent probation

Following widely reported news last week that an accrediting body had put the School of Medicine and Health Sciences on probation, school officials appeared before the Board of Trustees on Friday to explain the decision and their plans for future improvements.

The Liaison Committee on Medical Education, an organization recognized by the Department of Education, said Tuesday that the medical school failed to meet several accreditation standards “including curriculum management, lounge and study space for students, and internal administrative processes,” according to a news release from the medical school. Officials have declined to make the report public.

The school remains a fully accredited institution while it addresses the issues raised by the LCME. University Provost John “Skip” Williams, vice president for health affairs, said he hopes improvements will be made within a year.

“LCME visited for three days in February and presented us with a written report that proposed probation,” Williams said at the meeting. “We presented an appeal since we got several citations taken off. But they still put the University on probation. It was very disappointing for all of us in the Medical Center.”

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.

“The 14th was the darkest day of my career,” Williams said at the board meeting, referring to last Tuesday.

Curriculum management accounted for five of the findings that did not meet LCME standards, while a lack of study and lounge space, faculty appointments at affiliate sites and affiliation agreements accounted for the remaining problems.

“Although they may seem minor to some, we take these findings very seriously,” SMHS Dean James Scott said at the meeting.

He added that some of the issues that the accreditation board found have already been corrected.

“We are very committed to correcting the findings,” Scott said.

Study and lounge space has been a problem since 2001, Scott said, when LCME first announced GW’s space did not meet their standards.

“The building was built in the 70s. But back then, there were 500 medical school students – now there are 700,” Scott said. “The program has grown but has remained in the same location. However, the classrooms and labs are top-rate. We also renovated the library by taking out the bound journals to make more room for space.”

Both Williams and Scott assured the Board that the probation will have no ramifications on students enrolled in the program.

“This will have no effect on graduation, diplomas or transcripts of medical school students,” Scott said. “We are working with the students and receiving information for other schools that have been on probation.”

SMHS has created a corrective action plan that will be submitted by Jan. 2. The six committees and 70 members are meeting regularly with consultants.

“We will maintain our reputation for training superb physicians, instead of the probation taking over.” Scott said. “I am determined to take the steps needed so that this won’t be here next year. One hundred and eighty years of training at the medical school will be reinstated.”

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