January 05, 2021

LCME Re-Accreditation: holding ourselves to high educational standards

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A critical piece of the School of Medicine’s mission is our commitment to educating the next generation of physicians and physician-scientists.

One way we hold ourselves to the highest standards for delivering education to our students is through accreditation by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME).

Accreditation is foundational to our mission as an academic medical center. Its importance for medical education is akin to a Joint Commission visit for patient care at UAB Hospital. Being accredited is what allows our students to be eligible to sit for the USMLE, to apply to ACGME-accredited residency programs, and for some states, graduating from an LCME-accredited school is required for medical licensure.

Preparing to renew our LCME accreditation is a great opportunity for self-reflection, capturing areas where we’re performing well, and identifying areas where we can grow and improve. We know we aren’t perfect, and that going through this self-study will reveal areas where we are falling short. The LCME doesn’t look for perfection, but for an honest, self-aware assessment of where we are as a medical school. That self-awareness lends itself to identifying areas for improvement, creating and enacting plans, both short- and long-term, to address these areas.

We hold full accreditation from our last visit in 2014, where we received only two citations. In 2014, the LCME noted our efforts to increase diversity in our faculty, especially by recruiting and retaining more women, which the accrediting body has continued to monitor. We know there is still work left to do here. The LCME also noted that we need to increase “self-directed or active learning” while decreasing the number of hours students spend in lectures. Renovations coming to Volker Hall over the next year will address this through the addition of flipped classroom space.

Preparations for our next LCME site visit, which will happen April 10-13, 2022, began this summer.

Gustavo Heudebert, MD, who retired from UAB this fall as faculty in the Division of General Internal Medicine and interim dean of the Montgomery Regional Medical Campus, and Catherine Fuller, PhD, professor in the Department of Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology, are serving as our LCME Faculty Accreditation Co-Leads. They, along with Elizabeth Rahn, PhD, LCME site visit coordinator, are overseeing each step of the LCME process and working with the LCME Executive Committee to prepare for the LCME site visit.

Work is underway on the Data Collection Instrument, a large database of information showing how we align with the 12 standards for LCME accreditation.

A team of student leaders are preparing the Independent Student Analysis, in which the students will plan and distribute a survey to their classmates in early 2021 that includes questions about the school's learning environment, educational program, resources, administration and services.

We’ve also selected members for the Self-Study Task Force, chaired by Irfan Asif, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Family of Medicine, and co-chaired by Lanita Carter, PhD, director of medical education and student services on the Huntsville Regional Medical Campus. This task force will begin meeting in April to compile our Self-Study report, which will highlight our institutional strengths and challenges, along with strategies for us to address those identified challenges.

The Data Collection Instrument, Independent Student Analysis and the Self-Study Report will all be part of a survey packet we’ll submit to the LCME in advance of our site visit.

We learn a lot about ourselves as an institution during the re-accreditation process and consequently develop new programs or initiatives that allow for continual evolution and innovation in our approach to educating the next generation of physicians. Re-accreditation touches all of us in the School of Medicine. Thanks to each of you who have played an active role in the process so far and thanks to each of you for the role you will play in our re-accreditation.

We will be sharing more about this as we move forward. You can learn more about our LCME re-accreditation timeline and milestones on the School of Medicine website at go.uab.edu/lcme.