From the Dean

Last week I attended the fall meeting of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), the national body that accredits all of the 154 medical schools in the U.S. and the 17 in Canada that grant M.D. degrees. By the way, the reason that it is called a “Liaison” committee is because the LCME is sponsored by two parent organizations—the American Medical Association and the Association of American Medical Colleges. You might recall that the recently installed new president of the AAMC, Dr. David Skorton, was the School’s freshman medical student class White Coat speaker this past August. As with other higher education accrediting bodies, the LCME functions under the rules, regulations and policies of the U.S. Department of Education.

I am one of 19 voting members on the LCME, and we meet three times each year (October, February, and June). Each of the 171 schools is visited and reviewed at least every eight years, and more frequently when needed. Our own school was last visited in 2014, and we were just notified that our next visit will be in April 2022—two-and-a-half years from now.

During an accreditation visit, each school is assessed as to its compliance with 12 standards of performance that are subgrouped into 93 elements. Some of the element requirements are pretty straightforward, like requiring a conflict of interest policy covering the members of the school’s governing body, which in our case is the State Board of Higher Education (and, by the way, the SBHE does have such a policy).

But other requirements are more complex, and require judgement on the part of the survey team and ultimately the LCME itself. One of the more difficult qualifiers for the LCME to adjudicate is when a particular element has a requirement that the referenced polices or programs are “effective.” For example, Element 1.3 requires medical schools to ensure “that there are effective mechanisms in place for direct faculty participation in decision-making related to the medical education program.” All well and good; of course there is a need for direct faculty involvement in the design and execution of curricular content and delivery. But judging effectiveness is complex, and the LCME strives to avoid determinations of compliance where “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

As I have mentioned before, we have been engaged in a process of continuous quality improvement and updating our accreditation compliance ever since our last LCME survey team visit in 2014. Dr. Steve Tinguely, the School’s chief medical accreditation officer, has been working with the School’s faculty, staff and students, and various standing committees to ensure that we will be ready for the upcoming visit in 2022.

Finally, I’d like to give a shout-out to our students for holding their annual Teddy Bear clinic yesterday. About 150 local kindergartners were bused from their respective elementary schools to the UND SMHS where they were individually paired up with medical students. They brought their teddy bears, or other favorite stuffed animals, to receive a “check-up.” Both the teddies’ and the kindergartners’ vital signs were taken. The kindergartners were able to listen to their own heartbeat and play with doctoring tools, such as reflex hammers and stethoscopes. It was a wonderful effort by our students, and the children (and their teddy bears) seemed to have had a wonderful time! Well done indeed!

Joshua Wynne, MD, MBA, MPH
Interim President and Vice President for Health Affairs, UND
Dean, UND School of Medicine & Health Sciences