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2015 Accreditation: putting the school of medicine under the microscope

2015 Accreditation: putting the school of medicine under the microscope

Every eight years, each Canadian medical school must earn accreditation in order to maintain its status. It is a peer-review process that is designed to ensure that medical students are receiving high quality education that meets the standards set across North America. Administered by the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools (CACMS) and the American counterpart, Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), accreditation is a rigorous process wherein our teaching programs are reviewed in detail, our teaching sites are inspected and analyzed, and our medical school and its undergraduate education office are put under the microscope.

The Queen’s School of Medicine’s eight-year accreditation visit will happen in 2015, starting on March 29 and ending on April 1. In preparation for this visit, the school must complete an Institutional Self Study which includes an Independent Student Analysis in addition to preparing a Medical Education Database that addresses each of the accreditation standards which fall under one of five categories: Institutional Setting, Education Program leading to the MD Degree, Medical Students, Faculty Affairs, and Educational Resources.

As we approach the accreditation visit in March, I would like to recognize the hard work of John Drover, Tony Sanfilippo, Catherine Isaacs, Amanda Consack and the many other staff, students and faculty members who have been playing an integral role in preparing the School of Medicine for this important milestone.

The students have been and will continue to be a vital part of the process. Many students have spent countless hours not only preparing documents for the accreditation submission, but have given freely of their time and creative abilities to make the educational experience better for themselves and their peers and the many students who will follow in their path. Our students are exceptional and deserve high praise for the work they are doing.

To give you a sense of the breadth of the work and coordination involved, here is an accreditation visit “by-the-numbers”:

18 months of preparation

128 accreditation standards

7 committees struck in preparation for accreditation, each consisting of at least 10 members

1 committee of students for the Independent Student Analysis

6 visitors from the accrediting bodies (5 from CACMS, 1 from LCME)

80 faculty members to be interviewed

18 Department Heads to be interviewed

5 hospital CEOS to be interviewed

30 students and residents to be interviewed

Thousands of pages of material

And we are not done. There will be documentation to be completed and submitted; there will many meetings with students, staff and faculty in preparation for the visit; and further communication to come about details of the preparation and details for the visit.

While accreditation represents a tremendous amount of work, time and effort, it serves a very important function for a medical school: continuous quality improvement. Rather than wait 7 years and 364 days until the next accreditation visit and rush to evaluate ourselves and make changes, we have shifted towards a “culture” of accreditation whereby we are constantly monitoring our compliance to standards. In the end, this means that we are regularly improving the caliber of medical education that we deliver, to the benefit of our faculty members, our students and their future patients.

Please share your thoughts on medical school accreditation by commenting on the blog…or better yet, please drop by the Macklem House, my door is always open.

Eve Purdy (@purdy_eve)

Fri, 06/30/2017 - 13:10

Dr. Reznick,

Thanks for taking the time to spell out accreditation! I now understand more clearly the importance of the process but I do wonder about the opportunity costs that are associated with it’s current form.

For a number of months I have seen otherwise motivated, enthusiastic, inspired educators bogged down by all that comes along with this process. Is the exponential growth of standards that medical schools must meet sustainable? How does the meded community decide what makes a good medical school experience? Are these decisions evidence based? What are the measurable outcomes to know medical schools are succeeding…exam scores of their students, or the health of the patients their students care for? Should we be measuring these outcomes now or later in a physician’s’ career? What will get added to the “must haves” for medical school and what will be taken away? What is the future of the accreditation?

I’ve asked many questions but will need to learn much more about education and medicine before I can offer any reasonable answers! Would appreciate your and others’ thoughts along the way.


Eve Purdy

Eve Purdy (@purdy_eve)

Eve, I couldn’t agree more! Your questions are very appropriate and I am certain that they highlight changes that must be made to our current system. I will nominate you for an accreditation committee! Thanks, as always, for your thoughtful comments.



John S Rodway, M.D. F.A.C.O.E.M. (retired)

Fri, 06/30/2017 - 13:11

Dr. Reznick:

I appreciate all the information that you have provided. Agree with Eve Purdy that the value added by the intensity of this process needs evaluation.

It may already be part of the process, not clear to me, but if not I believe it would be valuable to have person(s) who are not part of the University or greater Kingston medical community on one of the committees to provide disinterested input.


John Rodway, M.D.

John S Rodway, M.D. F.A.C.O.E.M. (retired)


That’s s very good idea. However, the panel of interviewees is strictly prescribed by the accreditation body. Richard


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