LCME lifts medical school probation

The School of Medicine and Health Sciences’ accreditation probation was lifted Wednesday morning, school officials confirmed, ending an embarrassing 15-month ordeal.

The Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the school’s accreditation board, placed the University’s medical doctorate program on probation in October 2008 for problems in several areas, including curriculum management, lack of lounge and study space for students, and inadequate internal administrative processes. GW was only the fifth school since 1994 to be put on probation by the LCME.

Since the probation was announced, the LCME gave GW several positive signs – it approved the University’s plan to reverse its probation last February and visited the medical school last October to evaluate the changes it had made. The University built a new database system that compares information from the school’s curriculum to national averages, added 6,748 square feet of new study space in Himmelfarb Library, and revamped two outdated laboratories into lounge space, SMHS Dean James Scott said in August.

Scott said in a statement Wednesday that the medical school was reaccredited for another eight years. Scott was traveling in California Wednesday and was unavailable for additional comment.

University President Steven Knapp said he feels SMHS has grown stronger during the process of lifting the probation, adding that the school established structures to help continue to work on the areas the LCME previously disapproved of.

“The medical school has emerged stronger than ever from this process. When something like this happens, everyone is anxious about it, but it really is, if you act in the right way, it’s an opportunity for improvement,” he said. “That’s why we have these accreditation processes, so we can continue to improve.”

When the LCME placed the school on probation in 2008, Scott took responsibility for the issues cited by the LCME, but Knapp said Scott’s job was never in jeopardy.

“When something like this occurs in the institution, it’s very important to focus on how to respond and how to get work done that needs to be done,” Knapp said. “That was what my emphasis was from the start. Okay, we’ve got this report, we know what we need to work on together as a team. I don’t think you want to get distracted by pointing fingers at each other in a situation like this. You really want to get the work done.”

Knapp said he met weekly with Scott, University Provost and Vice President for Health Affairs John “Skip” Williams, and other vice presidents from across the University until the site visit in October.

“My role was to meet every single week with the leadership of the medical center and other people at the University that were working on addressing and resolving the issues the LCME identified,” Knapp said. “So I was working very closely with Dean Scott, with the vice presidents of the University.”

Knapp said the University made a large financial investment in addressing the problems the LCME cited, but did not know the exact figure.

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