Biology, health departments concerned with university collaboration over CMED

Concerns about collaboration efforts with the developing College of Medicine are growing within the university's Physician Assistant Program and Department of Biology.

As CMED faces a decision based on an evaluation from the Liason Committee on Medical Education for preliminary accreditation, the related academic departments hope to be better incorporated in the university's decision-making process in the future.

Ahmad Hakemi, director of the Physician Assistant Program, said he will meet to provide input with CMED officials Thursday, the first time in more than two years.

"Recently, there has been an effort for us to be included to see what's happening and closely collaborate," Hakemi said. "But we were not included at all in the past two years."

Hakemi said he was once involved in CMED discussions when former University President Michael Rao's administration presided over the university.

"Initially, two and a half years ago, we were included and I attended all the meetings and was very involved," Hakemi said. "I was one of the first people involved that the university and ex-president Rao talked to."

Hakemi said his department is looking forward to collaborating with CMED programs and faculty, and the shared facilities, simulation labs and standardized patients will help strengthen the PA program.

"LCME's standards are very high and if they're going to allow a medical school to proceed, expectations are very high," Hakemi said. "So this means that you're going to have top people here, the best resources here, the best minds here and the best researchers here, and I really look forward to collaborating, because we have very limited resources in the PA program."

CMED Dean Ernest Yoder said he expects collaboration efforts to increase after LCME's evaluation next week. Recently, Yoder said, a significant amount of work has been dedicated to ensuring CMED will meet the required criteria for accreditation.

"There’s a fair amount of work that was going in regard to LCME which did not invite in folks from other departments," Yoder said.

As the school continues to develop, Yoder said, he envisions CMED collaborating with the university's relevant departments, along with the Mount Pleasant community.

"We view ourselves as a community-engaged medical school and we think there’s going to be very substantial collaboration involving all of the departments at CMU, as well as the community we hope to serve," Yoder said.

Stephen Roberts, chairman of the Biology Department, said the department's recent endorsement of the Academic Senate's vote of no confidence against University President George Ross and Provost Gary Shapiro stemmed from issues with CMED, a lack of shared governance and perceived devaluation of faculty during contract negotiations.

"In the deliberations of the motion to endorse the Academic Senate’s vote of no confidence, some Biology faculty members expressed concerns about perceived communication lapses from the administration during the conception and planning of the College of Medicine," Roberts said in an email.

However, Roberts said development of CMED has already started to make a positive impact on the Department of Biology, including the number of students majoring in biology and biomedical sciences.

"There is little doubt that the creation of the College of Medicine has played a significant role in the growth of the biology and biomedical sciences majors, which combined have grown from 450 students to 725 students in the past three years," Roberts said. "Historically, the Biology Department has had strengths in field and aquatic biology, but in the past decade or so, has also grown and developed strength in cell biology and molecular genetics"


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