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GWU Medical School Hid Reasons For Probation
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发表时间:2009-04-19
更新时间:2009-04-19
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发信人: docrockville (docrockville), 信区: MedicalCareer
标 题: GWU Medical School Hid Reasons For Probation
发信站: BBS 未名空间站 (Sun Apr 19 05:03:52 2009)

GWU Hid Reasons For Probation

The New Physician, April 2009

by Steve Woo

The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences (GWU
) hid far more serious details about why it was placed on academic probation
than it revealed last fall, and the university provost, also a medical
school vice president, was accused of ethics violations, the Washington Post
reported in late February. In addition, a former student has accused the
school of harassment, for which he indicates he may take legal action.

When an announcement was issued in October that the school was placed on
academic probation by the nation’s medical school accrediting body, the
school stated the probation stemmed from a lack of student lounge space,
curriculum management and administrative paperwork issues. But confidential
documents the newspaper had obtained indicated the problems were much worse.

Just days after being sanctioned, questions that swirled among medical
students were raised by the Hatchet, the university’s student newspaper,
questioning the stated reasons the medical school had been put on probation
by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME).

According to one medical student, not involved in that article, “We all
know the school didn’t get put on probation because of lounge space.” The
student asked not to be identified for fears of retribution from the school.

The Post reported that the LCME documents showed medical students had
reported extensive mistreatment, primarily belittlement and humiliation, at
rates exceeding the national average; that the school poorly monitored
students’ time with patients and neglected to explain how those experiences
related to the classroom; that the ombudsman addressing student complaints
also led the committee evaluating students; and as cited in 2001, the school
still lacked a system for monitoring student achievement and failed to
review the curriculum for gaps and redundancies.

Dr. James L. Scott, the medical school’s dean, expressed disappointment at
the Post article and says it gave the impression that the school was
downplaying the problems. “The article gave a sense we were minimizing this
and used the word ‘superficial,’ and I have never used that word,” he
says.

Scott rebuts the article’s assertion that the school’s problems were “
worse than described.” For instance, the 2001 curriculum management issues,
he says, are not the same problems that were cited recently.

Scott maintains the issues that caused the probation have not been hidden.
“These were the same issues we have been saying all along.”

Scott agreed when asked whether these reasons could be considered “umbrella
” issues. Scott says that would be an accurate description, and that the
issues could be considered categories beyond the one or two problems the
school has publicized.

For instance, falling under the administrative issues umbrella would include
the conflict of interest of the medical school ombudsman evaluating
students and handling student complaints, he says. “With the ombudsman,
this is an administrative change that had to happen…. We are not trying to
mislead anyone.”

Under these broad categories could also fall the assertions of student
mistreatment and other issues the newspaper brought up, he says.

While the Hatchet has repeatedly called to make the documents public, Scott
says that it would make it more difficult to deal with the problems than if
they were dealt with privately. Asked whether individual violations should
be revealed, “I don’t think we need to go line by line on that,” Scott
says.

The LCME has approved the school’s plan and praised its progress toward
correcting the violations, he says.

As for these issues affecting perceptions of the medical school, as well as
the university as a whole, he says he could not speak for the public in
general. The opinions that count to him are the ones of the students, alumni
, faculty and staff, he says.

The LCME also declined to release the probation documents or comment on the
issues raised, saying communications between it and schools were
confidential, according to Dan Hunt, the organization’s co-secretary. The
accrediting body is closely tied to the Asso¬ciation of American
Medical Colleges.

A meeting of the LCME was held in early February, but Hunt did not divulge
what was discussed, including any mention of the violations at GWU.


The school has until October 2010 to comply with LCME standards, and remains
accredited while on probation. In 15 years, only four other schools have
been placed on probation. None of those schools lost its accreditation, an
event that would essentially result in a medical school’s ruin.

In another bombshell, Dr. John F. Williams, GWU’s provost and vice
president for health affairs, was cited in the Post article of unethically
receiving money and stock options since 1999 from Universal Health Services,
the corporate owner of the university’s hospital, while serving on its
board of directors. Williams has since resigned the board position effective
at end of the academic year, according to the Post.

Concerning Williams’ resignation from the board, Scott says that he had no
further comment than what he had already expressed in the Post, that
Williams is an alumnus of the medical school, and has “been supportive of
me and this medical school and the students.”

In another complaint against the medical school, a former GWU second-year
filed an 18-page complaint with the LCME in early February accusing the
school of various issues, many of which coincided with the Post’s report,
including harassment by faculty and extensive code violations. The student,
Brad Honigman, an undergraduate alumnus, cited having to dissect a decaying
cadaver, which he says was the likely cause of a bacterial infection he
contracted.

He says the university has ignored his complaints and that he may take
action against the school. The school says it cannot comment on matters
related to individual students.

Charles Drew Administration Optimistic Amid Layoffs, Salary Cuts

Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science says the turmoil in the
nation’s economy has caused layoffs and salary cuts, but will not affect
plans to cautiously move forward to a four-year program, say school
officials.

The Los Angeles-based historically black medical school has had to cut about
40 staff and faculty. Federal and state grants have dried up with the
country’s recession, and the university’s investments have lost 10 percent
of their value. The layoffs are part of a plan to save $10 million annually.

While the job and executive salary cuts, which affect about 10 percent of
faculty and staff, have been difficult to make, they were necessary, says Dr
. Susan Kelly, the university’s president and CEO.

“You make difficult decisions now or make horrendous decisions later,”
Kelly says. She emphasizes that cutbacks have happened at medical schools
nationwide.

Still, Kelly says the university will push forward on its plans announced
only a few months before to expand the medical program from a two-year to a
four-year program in five years. The school has a years-long partnership
with the Uni¬versity of California, Los Angeles, School of Medicine (
UCLA) for students’ first and second years. Students then spend their third
and fourth years at Charles Drew. Students receive their M.D. degrees from
UCLA.

Kelly maintains the announced timetable for the expansion, three or four
years, can be kept. While she is optimistic, the school’s dean of the
college of medicine, Dr. Richard S. Baker, is more cautious. He says
expansion must be done in stages and says the economic uncertainty may have
to force the school to change course during that time.

“The world has completely changed, and we need to change our expectations,
” says Baker. “We have to face that.”

The key is looking at making the changes as cost-effective as possible, he
says. “We’re pretty lean and looking at our accreditation bodies and what
we need to achieve our objectives,” Baker notes. “We have to look at long-
term sustainability.”

Few faculty were let go, Baker says. To have students eventually graduate
from Charles Drew with an M.D., the school must work on its preclinical
science courses to tailor them to a medical school curriculum. In addition,
he believes that the university is likely to maintain its relationship with
UCLA while Drew seeks accreditation, as well as after the process.

Still, Baker says, no one can predict the future. “There are no guarantees
for anybody.”

But current upheavals provide a great opportunity for the university to
change and grow, Kelly says. “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.”
--

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