Probation lifted at McGill's med school, but accrediting body slams program's diversity

McGill's prestigious medical school is no longer on probation, but the accrediting body that oversees the program says there are still too few minorities admitted into the program.

Indigenous, black and Filipino students underrepresented, according to a letter from accreditation body

McGill University's medical school had been on probation since 2015. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

McGill's prestigious medical school is no longer on probation, but the accrediting body that oversees the program says it is still admitting too few minorities.

The Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools decided to lift the two-year probation on the school following a review earlier this year.

In a letter to the school, however, the accreditation body slammed McGill's record on diversity.

"Progress is minimal and below average for Canadian medical schools" when it comes to the recruitment of Indigenous students," the letter reads. 

It also noted that black and Filipino people are underrepresented in relation to Montreal census data.

Low parental income and education levels are underrepresented as well. McGill was also cited for lack of progress recruiting students from rural backgrounds.
McGill's dean of medicine, David Eidelman, promised to improve his faculty's diversity. (CBC)

"It is unclear what actions have been taken to improve diversity in leadership and little progress is reported in improving levels of participation by women and aboriginals (sic) in leadership positions," the letter reads.

In an interview with CBC News, dean of medicine David Eidelman said a number of measures have been put in place to try and recruit more minorities.

The university has hired a director specifically charged with improving diversity. There is also a new Indigenous Health Program targeting students from Indigenous communities.

McGill. moreover, is trying to improve rural recruitment with its Gatineau campus.

Eidelman said all medical programs struggle with recruiting minorities.

"It's hard because in order to get into medical school, you need to have very high marks and in general it's easier to get really high marks when you come from a privileged background," he said.

Good news, but room to improve

The university's medical school, the oldest in Canada, was put on probation in 2015 — a major blow to McGill's reputation. 

It risked losing its accreditation after an inspection found the undergraduate medical education program failed to meet 24 of 132 required standards.

Among the sub-par elements of the program was the quality of women's health education and students' overall learning experience. 

The letter sent from CACMS indicated there's still room for the school to improve, but agreed to continue accreditation for an indeterminate period.

"The positive outcome reflects the extraordinary work of many individuals, on campus and in our teaching network," Eidelman wrote in a letter to staff and students.

"On behalf of McGill and our Faculty of Medicine, congratulations."