Members of the Larner College of Medicine's medical Class of 2022 gather in small groups in the Reardon Classroom during the Nutrition, Metabolism and Gastrointestinal Systems course in their first year of medical school. (Photo: David Seaver)
The Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont has been awarded continued accreditation for a full eight-year term by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), the accrediting body for all M.D. degree programs in the U.S. and Canada.
The reaccreditation process is rigorous, involving 18 months of self-study organized by 12 standard areas of medical education containing 93 specific elements that are examined for compliance. At Larner, this work was accomplished by a task force and committee structure involving over 300 members of the College community. The self-study also includes a detailed survey of the medical student body, called the Independent Student Analysis, which is written and administered by the students themselves. After the self-study is submitted for review, the LCME conducts a site visit, typically over two or more days.
This year, the process was complicated by the unique circumstances and limitations presented by the pandemic, which necessitated a pivot to online self-study meetings and a "virtual site visit" by the LCME reviewers over two afternoons in April 2021. Adding to the challenge were the effects of an October 2020 cyberattack on the UVM Medical Center, the College's clinical education affiliate.
"Despite those challenges, and thanks to the amazing ingenuity, resilience and energy of people from across our community – faculty, staff, and students both in Vermont and Connecticut – our self-study was completed in full and on time," said Larner Dean Richard L. Page, M.D.
“The LCME accreditation process requires engagement from the entire Larner College of Medicine community, especially our students,” said Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education Christa Zehle, M.D. “I am grateful for their incredible participation, especially the 100 percent response rate on our Independent Student Analysis survey, which is a national exemplar. I believe the LCME decision truly reflects our great medical education program and community and am extremely proud of what we accomplished during a challenging time in our history.”
The accreditation process is designed to enhance the quality of medical education by identifying areas for improvement. Of the 93 elements examined by the LCME, 84 were found to be fully satisfactory at Larner. In the coming weeks the College will prepare plans to address areas for further attention and present an interim report to the LCME in December 2022. The College's Continuous Quality Improvement Committee will address systematically all standards and elements in an ongoing fashion in preparation for the next LCME Site Visit in 2029.
“I am so grateful for the skills, teamwork, and camaraderie from faculty, staff, students, and leaders to make our reaccreditation a success,” said LCME Faculty Accreditation Lead Jan Carney, M.D., M.P.H., associate dean for public health and health policy and senior advisor to the dean. “Despite a global pandemic, the Larner College of Medicine did not miss a beat. This speaks volumes to the strengths of our College and our collective commitment.”
“Reaccreditation is ultimately focused on our students and optimizing their educational experience," said Dean Page. "Our medical students were full participants in the reaccreditation effort. Their engagement, and that of our entire community, surely impressed our site-visitors and played an important part in our receiving full accreditation.”
One of those students was Vinh Le, a member of the medical Class of 2023, who served on the Larner LCME Task Force.
“I was deeply impressed with the passion and creativity demonstrated by everyone involved,” said Le. “Faculty, staff, and students were committed not only to gathering essential data, but also to providing insightful reflection and embracing new ideas. The celebration of the strengths of the College did not detract from the recognition that improvement was always possible, and that no existing challenges were insurmountable.”