From 2008 thru 2010, the LCME, the medical school accrediting body, put the George Washington University University medical school on accreditation probation. As an article* in US News notes: "The LCME doesn't publicize the reasons schools are put on probation and doesn't release its reports on schools' violations-- which lends a cloak of secrecy and ambiguity to the probation announcements that schools are required to issue." In line with this, GW declined to publish the list of reasons for probation, admitting to a number of minor offenses which seem, well, lame.
Nonetheless, the real reason can be inferred from various news reports, etc., listed below. Apparently, GWU's probation was primarily secondary to conflicts of interest involving GW Medical School top administrators and Universal Health Services, the private corporation that runs and mostly owns the GWU hospital. Evidently, the accrediting body worried that the interests of students and residents might be sacrificed to those of the for-profit corporation.
The eventual face-saving deal was that the probation would be lifted on correction of a few minor issues. Then, nine months later, the responsible administrators would be asked to resign. Does this situation have lingering effects ? E.g., such might explain GWU's slowness and reluctance to institute ACGME resident hours rules. These would cost Universal Health Services and any allied hospitals such as Inova Fairfax millions of dollars a year.
Because GW and its independent pay-as-you-go practice plan, Medical Faculty Associates (MFA) does not own a teaching hospital and must contract, it is expremely vulnerable to such undue influence. If (say) GW loses ACGME and/or LCME accreditation because of such shenangans, the hospital claims plausible deniability and walks away, "shocked, shocked". Meanwhile, med students and residents are stuck.
" As for the young people, they work them to death and pay them badly, so many leave ", Castor, JA (2008) " Selling Teaching Hospitals and Practice Plans ", Baltimore, John Hopkins University Press, p42, quoting a source on GU's Medical Faculty Associates, inc. which runs the residency programs at GWU.
*US News article: "What Medical School Probation Means for Students"
Washington Post article: Medical School's problems "worse than described"
Washington Post article: "GWU medical school sheds probationary status"
Washington Post article: "GWU medical school leaders told to resign"
Blog Article: "GWU conflict of Interest"
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