Med school hopeful about re-accreditation

April 9, 2019

HUNTINGTON — For the first time since its probation was lifted in 2013, Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine faces review by Liaison Committee on Medication Education, or LCME, the accrediting body for medical schools in the United States and Canada.

But initial reports by LCME staff, who visited Marshall to personally vet the school last week, are comparatively glowing this time around, said School of Medicine Dean Dr. Joseph Shapiro.

So much so, he continued, that he would resign if the findings resulted in another probation stay.

“I would bet my career this will end up in an eight-year accreditation letter, which is the highest level you can get,” said Shapiro, who also faces LCME accreditation for the first time since taking over as School of Medicine dean in 2012 when the school was still on probation.

The LCME placed the School of Medicine on probation in June 2011 for not meeting nine standards in areas including a lack of diversity for students and faculty, lower-than-average scholarship support and higher-than-average student debt, limited programs to promote student well-being, limited advising, lack of

a financial aid and debt management program, and curricular issues.

During the probation period, Shapiro was hired in in 2012 to replace outgoing dean Dr. Charles McKown, and LCME officials worked with the medical school in the following year on plans to fix the non-compliant issues. One of the areas the medical school worked on was increasing scholarship support and assisting students with financial aid.

The school has hired a fulltime assistant director of financial aid who was formerly shared with the undergraduate campus, and the student wellness committee has recommended personal budgeting classes for first-year students. The medical school also started its Project P.R.E.M.E.D. program, aimed at allowing undergraduate and graduate students of color to explore and experience medical school.

While there have been new faculty hired and some structural changes have happened between then and now, Shapiro added that transition beyond probation was done mostly with Marshall staff who were already there when he was hired, rather than the new dean making a complete overhaul on arrival.

Instead, Shapiro stressed the school’s refocusing on the accreditation process and working with urgency to address those issues that led to probation.

“This is an example of what our school can do if we are directed toward accreditation,” Shapiro said. “They weren’t bad before, they just needed to change their focus and attention.”

Marshall is expected to learn if the School of Medicine has been re-accredited sometime this summer or fall, though Shapiro’s optimism stems mainly from the LCME survey team’s exit report, which was published after visiting the school March 31 through April 3. The LCME visit follows a self-study by Marshall to verify what the university has reported on itself, with both weighing into the ultimate accreditation decision.

The report does outline problem issues for the School of Medicine in eight of the assessment’s 12 standards — including some that were issues from the 2011 probation decision — though nearly all points add Marshall has addressed them in some way.

Issues raised and apparent lacking areas include the responsiveness of the Office of Student Affairs, procedures for reporting student mistreatment, instruction in biostatistics/epidemiology and immunology, narrative assessments for small-group and clinical work, timely clerkship grading, career advising, and personal well-being programs.

The report also expressed the survey team’s impressions of the School of Medicine’s “enthusiasm, dedication, and commitment of everyone they met including students, faculty, staff, and administration.”

The full five-page report is available to the public online somwebapps.marshall.edu/lcme19 under “Survey Team Exit Report - 4/3/2019”