An academic accreditation organization put GW’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences on probation for failing to meet several standards, school officials announced yesterday.
The Liaison Committee on Medical Education, after an accreditation review, said the school had problems in several areas “including curriculum management, lounge and study space for students, and internal administrative processes,” according to a news release from the Medical School yesterday.
School of Medicine Dean James Scott said the school received a preliminary notice of probation in June after representatives of the LCME visited the school in February. The school spent the summer putting together an appeal to the decision and drafting a plan to improve upon the issues highlighted in the report. The LCME affirmed its early decision and informed the school of its official probationary status on Tuesday.
Scott said the LCME was most concerned with curriculum management, and how the school was creating a structure in which the curriculum’s objectives could be measured throughout a student’s four years. He said that while the school understands the gravity of the situation, they are confident that it can get off probation status within a year.
“We understand the importance of this, embrace it fully, and plan to use it as an opportunity to get better,” he said.
A Washington Post article stated that SMHS is now the only school on probation with the LCME and the fifth medical school since 1994 to be put on probation. Others include the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, University of Saskatchewan and Temple University.
The LCME defines probation as “such a determination may be based on the LCME’s judgment that the areas of noncompliance have seriously compromised the quality of the medical education program, or that the program has failed to make satisfactory progress in achieving compliance after having been granted ample opportunity to do so.”
Dan Hunt, the senior director of accreditation services at LCME, said that being put on probation affects the reputation of the school and is difficult for the school as well as the students.
“Its without a doubt a painfully negative thing but this a form of quality improvement, but to say its not negative would be unfair to those who are going to experience it,” he said. “If the graduates of The George Washington University have impressed the residency directors before, then the residency directors has that as his own or her own personal information. So we don’t know how much it affects their personal thinking and decisions but it’s a factor.”
Scott, however, said he was confident that the probation would not hurt current students looking to get a residency after graduation.
“The people who run residency programs know that GW is a well-respected institution, and this doesn’t change it,” he said. “When you’re looking a student, it’s more about the fit for that student, their accomplishments, their expertise.”
Scot also said he doubted the probation status would hurt admissions numbers, noting that this year’s incoming class had the highest cumulative GPA and MCAT scores, in addition to the 12,000 applicants for next year
If the school lost accreditation, Hunt said it would be “a serious blow because the students wouldn’t have access to the traditional routes for residency training. To date there has never been a school that lost accreditation.”