Dalhousie University’s Medical School was recently put on probation for two years, after failing to comply with ten standards set by the Liaison Committee of Medical Education (LCME).
LCME, a U.S. based accrediting body responsible for the accreditation of all medical schools in the U.S. and Canada, has 132 standards that schools must meet. Initially, Dalhousie was found to be non-compliant with 17 standards, but this ruling was changed to 10 after an appeal.
“The appeal went well, as we won seven appeals. We are still, however, on probation,” said Thomas Marrie, the dean of Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Medicine. “We did not appeal a number of standards because we felt the Committee was right in its ruling.”
Many of the LCME’s concerns had to do with Dalhousie Medicine’s curriculum management and learning environment.
“The ‘non-compliant’ standards range from not having enough lockers in the hospital for medical students to not having reviewed the curriculum for years,” Marrie said, explaining that Dalhousie has already begun improving the program. “We are reviewing our undergraduate medical program closely. A number of staff are taking a look at the practices of various medical schools and seeing how we can fold them into a new curriculum.”
Aris Lavranos, the president of Dalhousie Medical Student Society, said that despite the LCME’s ruling, medical students feel secure in their program.
“Dr. Marrie and his team have kept us in the know and have taken into consideration the opinions of the students. We aren’t overly concerned,” Lavranos said. “Most of the problems are of an administrative nature, such as improving the clarity of our unit objectives. This doesn’t reflect what we learn. The content is the same.”
Like Dalhousie, McGill’s Faculty of Medicine is accredited by the same two bodies that accredit all Canadian medical schools: LCME and the Committee on the Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools (CACMS).
According to Joyce Pickering, the associate dean of Medical Education and Student Affairs at McGill, the accreditation process helps faculties of medicine adapt to new standards.
“The accreditation process represents an opportunity to continue raising the bar of excellence within McGill’s Faculty of Medicine,” Pickering added.
Pickering noted that the last time McGill went through an evaluation in 2007, they were fully accredited. Since then, McGill has been been working to improve its program, developing more rigorous evaluation tools and working on formalizing periodic reviews of its curriculum.
According to a letter from Dalhousie’s Faculty of Medicine to prospective students, students should not hesitate to apply to or accept an offer of admission from Dalhousie Medicine.
“We have wasted no time in starting to remedy the problems cited by the LCME and in going beyond its requirements and developing a new leading-edge curriculum,” wrote Marrie.
As for the futures of Dalhousie Medicine’s graduating students, Marrie does not expect the school’s probationary status to affect them.
“Our current medical students are aware of the actions we are taking to better the school and are not concerned. Dalhousie still offers a good medical education,” he said.