O'Brien outlines key re-accreditation strategies

July 9, 2015


Earlier this year, preparation began for IU School of Medicine's re-accreditation by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the accrediting body of U.S. medical schools. Since that time, IUSM leaders, faculty and staff have been preparing for the November 2016 accreditation survey team visit.

How is the effort progressing? Colleen O’Brien, IUSM director of continuous quality improvement for educational affairs, responds to questions that she and other re-accreditation team members have heard from faculty, staff and students.

What were the results of the IUSM accreditation survey in 2008? 
While we were re-accredited in 2008, a few areas were of concern to the LCME: the lack of integration in our curriculum (and its inconsistency across our nine campuses), untimely receipt of grades, insufficient observation of core clinical skills and faculty diversity. When the LCME followed up with us in 2011, they were satisfied that we had plans in place to address these areas. 

So, looking toward the 2016 site visit, are those the areas of greatest concern?
Obviously, any item for which we were cited as non-compliant or needing monitoring is a concern for our team. It’s imperative that we not be cited in the same area again, since the LCME understandably wants to know that an issue was resolved and tends to react negatively when a school can’t solve its problems. The LCME team’s ultimate goal is to move IUSM toward continuously monitoring and improving our educational program. 

How is the timing of grades being addressed?
We are working with the new Medical Student Education office to closely examine the process for submitting and monitoring grades. Given the number of learners we have in clinical rotations, we know it’s important to make all preceptors aware of the important role they play in giving our students constructive feedback. That feedback is critical to support student learning and ultimately supports achieving compliance with the requirement that students receive their grades promptly.

What about progress toward better faculty diversity?
We have made great strides in attending to issues of diversity in our faculty hiring process. In fact, our colleagues in the Office of Faculty Affairs and Professional Development recently published an article on the improvements we have been making to our search processes. Implementing effective processes is an important aspect of our preparation in many areas affecting re-accreditation; diversity is just one example. 

How will curriculum reform support our re-accreditation?
Ultimately, we are pursuing curriculum reform because it will enhance our learners’ experience. The accelerated timing clearly supports our re-accreditation. We must demonstrate a comparable, integrated curriculum with a clear oversight process across the system. That important work pertains to both our legacy curriculum and the new curriculum.

What’s a specific example of a curriculum item that needs attention?
Language in our 2008 accreditation letter suggested that our curriculum governance structure was not robust enough; that individual courses and clerkships were operating too autonomously. Course directors in the basic and clinical sciences, as well as our Curriculum Council, are taking steps to demonstrate how our governance structure is robust and clear.

From your perspective, what is the greatest concern in our pursuit of re-accreditation?
The calendar. We have a finite amount of time to prepare for this no-fail mission. That is sobering news, yet here’s the good news:  we have the support of our faculty, staff and learners to reach our goal. Already, a tremendous number of hours have been devoted to this work. Additionally, the dean’s office is preparing us to succeed with ample resources.