Paper: Medical school downplayed problems

An article published in the Washington Post Monday asserted that the School of Medicine and Health Sciences has downplayed the severity of the problems leading to its recent academic probation.

The SMHS, which was placed on a two-year probation by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education in October, has repeatedly declined to make their probation report public. The Post reported that several of the problems announced by the school were more severe than presented, according to a “confidential” letter from the accrediting agency which they obtained.

Referencing the document, the Post article asserts that “GWU has done an inadequate job of monitoring students’ time with patients and ensuring that those clinical experiences relate to classroom learning . Students complained of mistreatment. Problems flagged as long ago as 2001 still had not been addressed when the school was put on probation.”

SMHS Dean James Scott disagreed with points of the article in an interview with The Hatchet, most vehemently the Post’s assertion that its reported citations – including curriculum management and a lack of study and lounge space – are “superficial.”

“I don’t think the problem was worse than we said, because we said it was serious all along,” Scott said. Being cited for “curriculum management is serious. It’s not just the outcome of your product, it is the processes in place for continuously improving the education.”

Scott said that the monitoring time spent with patients falls under curriculum management and that the LCME was interested in a system to log the hours but was not concerned, for instance, that the students were not spending an adequate number of hours working with patients.

Scott said that the mistreatment issue reported by the Post fell under curriculum management and that the accrediting body wanted GW to “educate more faculty and students about mistreatment policies.”

The Post also reported that the LCME cited a conflict of interest in the ombudsman in charge of mistreatment policy also being a chair on the evaluation committee that evaluates mistreatment.

Scott said the school is still waiting on word from the LCME on their return visit but would schedule an open town hall meeting for students and faculty to ask questions and voice any concerns once a date was set.

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