SMHS accreditation plan approved

The School of Medicine and Health Sciences announced the details of a corrective action plan last week that they hope – once implemented – will convince their accrediting body to overturn the school’s probation. The plan includes creating an electronic database to overhaul curriculum management and adding thousands of square feet of study space.

The outline to overturn probation – submitted to the Liaison Committee on Medical Education in December and approved last week – also states the school will create an office of education to analyze a new database system and hire an expert in education to monitor the school’s progress. The LCME placed the school on two-year probation in October, citing curriculum management, administrative paperwork and study and lounge space as major problems.

The announcement in the fall made GW the only medical school in the country on probation with the LCME and the fifth since 1994. The Board of Trustees announced at their meeting on Friday that they would now help oversee the medical school’s compliance with outside accrediting bodies.

SMHS Dean James Scott said in an interview with The Hatchet that he was confident that the probation would be overturned quickly and that the medical school will escape with its reputation unscathed.

“This is going to be behind us relatively soon,” he said. “What we are and what we’ve been hasn’t really changed.”

Scott said the new database system will address some of the curriculum management concerns raised by the LCME and will compare information from the curriculum to national averages and norms electronically. Information about the plan’s costs of implementation, including creating a database, was not yet available, he said.

“We have reorganized our committee structure as to how we’re going to manage the curriculum,” Scott said. “We’ve created a new office of education to support that process with data analysts and an expert in education to help us make sure we stay on track with that.”

To tackle the study space problem, SMHS has created 6,748 square feet of new study space in Himmelfarb Library. In addition, two outdated laboratories were emptied and renovated for lounge space, Scott said.

“We went back to the students and said, ‘Okay, the LCME talked about lounge and study space. What do you really want?’ It’s one thing for the LCME to tell you, and it’s another thing for the students to tell you,” he said.

New policies have been approved to tackle the administrative processes that failed to meet LCME guidelines during a visit by the accrediting body last year.

“We’ve come up with a new monitoring system, or auditing system, for all of our hundreds of faculty who students maybe spend just a few days in their office,” he said. “We’ve rewritten some legal language in our affiliation agreements.”

For the probation to be overturned, the LCME must schedule a return visit within the next few months to ascertain whether the areas of concern are being adequately addressed.

Scott added that the school is keeping an eye on whether prospective applicants, which increased by 5 percent this year, express concern about attending due to the probation.

“We’re also tracking our students, who we accept, who decide not to come here and could that be related to [the probation],” he said. “So far, we’ve not had any students indicate that. I can’t promise that’s how it’s going to be all spring but right now, that’s where we’re at.”

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