Tuition refunded for untaught medical school classes

The University will refund tuition costs for two courses taught by the former medical school professor who was discovered giving “A” grades to students without actually teaching.

Venetia Orcutt resigned last month after students complained that she did not offer any instruction in two online courses on evidence-based medicine.

Jeffrey Akman, interim vice provost for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, said students’ tuition will be refunded for the online courses Orcutt failed to teach. The students can keep the credits earned “on the grounds that these credits have been earned through actual experiences during clinical rotations and other coursework taken during the program.”

Orcutt, who served as the program director and department chair for the University’s physician assistant program, was scheduled to teach a series of three one-credit courses on evidence-based medicine for the summer of 2009 and the spring and summer of 2010. Students will have the option of re-taking the second and third courses, which were online classes, free of charge, to receive continuing medical education credit, Akman said.

Students will not be refunded for the first class because Orcutt did teach that course.

Three students sent letters to Provost Steven Lerman’s office, concerned with Orcutt’s absence during the 2009-2010 academic year from two out of three semesters of an evidence-based medicine course. The students said in the letters that Orcutt never discussed why she did not teach, but instead each student received an “A.”

“This situation is clearly unacceptable and, on behalf of the University, I immediately accepted Dr. Orcutt’s resignation,” Akman said.

Orcutt, an award-winning teacher, according to her website, did not return requests for comment.

Akman said an independent review committee of faculty from outside the medical school would evaluate the situation to determine how to prevent similar future occurrences and report back to him before the end of 2011.

“Let me emphasize that we take these allegations most seriously,” Akman said. “Such egregious breaches of professional ethics and academic standards will not be tolerated at George Washington.”

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