October 19-23 were important dates for the University of Virginia School of Medicine and the UVA Children’s Hospital. A survey team consisting of members of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (“LCME”) came to UVA for the scheduled accreditation site visit that occurs about every eight years.
The LCME is a joint activity of the Association of American Medical Colleges (“AAMC”) and the Council on Medical Education of the American Medical Association, and is charged with reviewing and accrediting medical education programs in the U.S. and Canada that grant the Doctor of Medicine (“MD”).
This 3-day on-site visit was the culmination of about 18 months of preparation time by the faculty and staff here at UVA, beginning with a detailed self-evaluation process and the development of a medical education data base that addresses almost every aspect of a medical school (finances, physical resources, faculty, medical student admissions and curriculum). In their document “Functions and Structure of a Medical School”, which is available at www.lcme.org, the LCME has 128 active “standards” that establish the expectations for accreditation; these are accompanied by “annotations” that provide more specific detail regarding those standards. The LCME standards and annotations can change from one year to the next; our site visit was under the standards as of June 2013, while those medical schools who will be reviewed next year will be evaluated using a revised set of standards.
The schedule for the site visit was set by the LCME, and included meetings with a number of the medical school faculty, administrative staff, and medical students. Now that the site visit is complete, the survey team will send a draft report to the Dean of the School of Medicine for his/her feedback and suggested revisions. The final report is then reviewed by the larger LCME, which will issue an accreditation decision and a letter notifying the medical school of the accreditation decision.
Accreditation is important for a medical school; it indicates that the school is meeting national standards regarding its structure, function, and performance. It is also important for medical students and the graduates of that school. A medical education program must be LCME-accredited for its students to be eligible for certain medical student loans, and graduation from an LCME-accredited school is required to be eligible to take certain licensure examinations and to be eligible for most residency programs and eventual medical licensure in most states.
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