College of Medicine works toward full accreditation

When third-year medical student Saavia Girgla first considered attending the College of Medicine in its 2013 inaugural class, the fact that the program was not fully accredited did not deter her. 

CMU's College of Medicine is still striving to achieve full accreditation. It is preparing for a survey visit next month to determine if the program can move to provisional status, the next step in the process. Presently, CMED holds preliminary status.

“Having that initial accreditation where you get approved to take in medical students to me is the biggest step and the most important one,” Girgla said. “Once they’ve been approved to do that, it speaks to the work ethic of the administration that they are going to meet the subsequent goals and complete them accordingly.”

In December 2009, CMED submitted its application to the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the entity that accredits medical schools in the United States. Marie Matte, associate dean of compliance, evaluation and assessments oversees the accreditation process.

“It’s a tremendous amount of work,” Matte said. “It does require the participation of the faculty, staff, administration, and, very importantly, the students of the medical school to achieve accreditation.”

If provisional status is established this year, the final site visit can be expected to take place in approximately two years for the final stage toward full accreditation, Matte said.

The LCME outlines 12 standards for which medical schools must provide evidence of compliance. It indicates a program provides the adequate education and environment to produce competent doctors. A total of 95 elements are included under the 12 standards. 

Standard seven, for example, deals with educational materials and contains nine other standards, which list and describe the fields that must be covered by the program, from teaching pertinent biology to ethical guidelines.

During the survey visit May 22-25, a five-person group will conduct a series of interviews with faculty, staff administration and students. The team is comprised of one LCME personnel and four other trained auditors from around the nation, Matte said. Accreditors also will audit the facilities, program and personnel.

In 2015, the LCME reviewed the college. In an evaluation sent to President George Ross, the organization identified areas CMED needed to improve upon. The program was placed in a "warning" phase, which means there were certain areas of noncompliance. 

The college was able to recruit and accept applicants for medical students during this phase. 

In its 2015 evaluation, the LCME found there is comprehensive financial aid resources for students. There were instances where the medical school was too new to evaluate, though students expressed concern about the availability of clinician advisers, as well as the size of study spaces. 

The LCME also noted initiatives to recruit underrepresented groups were sparse. The report also states opportunities to observe biomedical phenomena are lacking. 

By May 1, the program needs to compile documentation to show its compliance with the LCME standards. Matte said these documents are supplemental to the reports CMED submitted to the LCME in February, which illustrated the ways in which the school is meeting accreditation standards.

In preparation for the survey visit, the College of Medicine requested a pre-survey consultation from the LCME. A representative visited the college last August to provide advice about how to move forward through the accreditation process, Matte said.

“Because we’re so new, we don’t have a lot of data to collect from our program, so (we are) asking them what pieces of evidence we could provide to the LCME at this point in our development that would satisfy the standards," Matte said. 

Training sessions are also being conducted for the faculty, staff and administrators who will meet with accreditors next month.

“Some of the people here are relatively new and have not been in front of an LCME site team,” Matte said. “Part of the training is explaining the process in detail, explaining what the site visit is all about and then conducting “a mock accreditation visit” where I various faculty, staff, students and administration will be asked to provide their perceptions of the program, followed by a debriefing session."

Managing Editor Sydney Smith also contributed to this story. 


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