SMHS ready for reevaluation, Dean says

Nearly one year after the School of Medicine and Health Sciences was placed on probation by its academic accrediting body, the school’s dean said Wednesday he is ready for the board to reevaluate its status.

Last October, the Liaison Committee on Medical Education placed the medical school on probation, citing problems with curriculum management, lounge and study space for students, and internal administrative processes.

“I believe this has been enough time and we are ready for the site visit next month,” Dean James Scott said in an e-mail. “For the past year, we have worked with internal and external consultants, members of the faculty, staff and students, to develop constructive resolutions to the issues outlined by the LCME. We feel that this has been a constructive process and know that we have made meaningful changes that have helped us build a stronger community.”

University President Steven Knapp said he has been updated on a weekly basis about the strides being made to correct the issues stated by the LCME.

“We’re certainly confident that we are prepared for this visit,” Knapp said.

At the time of the LCME’s ruling last year, SMHS was only the fifth to be put on probation by that body since 1994.

In a letter sent to students and faculty last week, Scott said the strides made to mend these violations include “a new student lounge on the first floor of Ross Hall,” a library open 24 hours a day, “a new, state-of-the-art curriculum database,” and a new committee composed of students and faulty members that will work toward improvements in the school’s learning environment. Scott hopes that with these changes, SMHS will be a “stronger community.”

One of the largest changes made was to the school’s curriculum, according to the letter.

“Course objectives are now all stated in outcomes based terms,” Scott said in the letter. “We have also been interviewing for a new Senior Associate Dean for Educational Affairs and a new oversight structure has been developed to closely follow clinical activities to ensure that all medical students share the same experiences throughout their medical education.”

Scott said the new curriculum database the school created is something not unique to medical schools, but he said SMHS’ curriculum database has unique features.

“We are very pleased with this particular database – because we’ve created a database that will strongly support what we want to do and has unique aspects that most medical schools do not have,” Scott said Wednesday.

An additional 6,748 square feet of study space was added to the medical school’s Himmelfarb Library over the summer, and the library will now be open 24 hours a day.

“The configuration was determined by the students and we hope it will provide all the space they need for studying,” Scott said in last week’s letter. “We are working with the Himmelfarb staff to ensure that this space is reserved for Medical Center students and faculty.”

Scott said renovations were completed on a first floor student lounge in Ross Hall, one the school’s main buildings.

The body will return to campus Oct. 18 to determine whether the school’s changes in these areas are significant enough to lift the medical school’s probation. No medical school has lost its LCME accreditation after probation, according to The Washington Post; losing accreditation would invalidate the program.

“We look forward to welcoming the LCME back to our campus and sharing our vision to create a curriculum that prepares our physicians to be critical thinkers with skills that translate into excellent patient care,” Scott said.

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