McGill's medical school put on probation by accrediting body

McGill University's prestigious medical school is on probation and at risk of losing its accreditation after an inspection found the undergraduate program failed to meet 24 of 132 required standards.

Association of medicine faculties found undergraduate program failed to meet 24 of 132 required standards

McGill Dean of Medicine David Eidelman says the university is already taking steps to address problems listed by the Association of Canadian Faculties of Medicine. (CBC)

McGill University's prestigious medical school is on probation and at risk of losing its accreditation after an inspection found the undergraduate medical education program failed to meet 24 of 132 required standards.

The Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada is the body responsible for accrediting medical schools.  

In a letter to staff and students, McGill's dean of medicine, David Eidelman, explained that after a two-day visit in February, the association found that McGill's faculty failed to meet several criteria.

Eidelman said some criteria were administrative in nature.

"The day that they came we did not yet have signatures on all the contracts of affiliation with the hospitals, which we got about a week later," he said, adding that some other standards that were not met were more "substantial."

"Questions about the way we are tracking the curriculum to make sure that all students were getting an equivalent experience no matter which hospital they were in. To me, that's a much more important issue which speaks to the way the operations of the curriculum are done."

The faculty now has 18 to 24 months to demonstrate significant progress or it could risk losing its accreditation.

Students not affected

Eidelman explained the process to staff, students and residents at a special meeting Wednesday evening.

Eidelman suggested that the problems are partly due to the fact that the program is in the midst of introducing a new curriculum.

He said that inspectors from the association were evaluating both the old curriculum and the new one.

"One thing that we were happy about was that when the visitors came, they made a point of commenting on how innovative our new curriculum was...There's a difference between the content of the curriculum and the details of how we're implementing it," Eidelman said.

This marks the first time that McGill's medical faculty has been placed on probation.

"There's no excuse for being on probation, so any explanation is not an excuse but there is no question that trying to run two different curriculums at the same time, while moving a hospital and having a health-care reform is a very challenging set of circumstances, and I can't help but think that made our job harder," Eidelman said.

He stressed that students would not be affected by McGill's probationary status.

"It means nothing for students. Their education is fully accredited, and their diplomas will be recognized around the world."

Medical students said they support McGill.

"It's not the greatest news but most of the students have faith in the faculty. Our new curriculum was even considered a strength by the accreditors," said Doulia Hamad, president of the Medical Students' Society. 

Eidelman said the university has already formed a working group on accreditation, and that group has developed an action plan. He said most of the measures in the action plan will be implemented by the end of this year.


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