Volume 13, Number 13 March 10, 2006

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Accreditation back in place for Medicine

The cloud of probation has been lifted from over the College of Medicine’s undergraduate program.

Dean William Albritton announced March 2 the Liaison Committee on Medical Education’s decision to restore full accreditation to the program that had been on probation since 2003. The decision comes as a relief to the dean and college faculty who have worked diligently to remedy shortcomings in 12 areas of the program that were found wanting, he said. Probationary status “certainly affects morale…but now we can focus on our vision for the future.”


The undergraduate program is required to meet 124 standards, explained Albritton. The areas of non-compliance that resulted in probation included a lack of diversity among medical students, a shortage of library resources, too few professors and an outdated curriculum. When the probation was announced, the provincial government responded quickly with an injection of $13.2 million to address the shortcomings.

Albritton said the college has been very successful in addressing most of the committee’s concerns. Some $2.6 million was spent upgrading the medical library’s information technology systems, and the college now has Aboriginal students in each of its four undergraduate years. “And just because probation has been lifted doesn’t mean we’re going to stop working in these areas.”

The accreditation committee still has some worries,” he said. The dean said the new curriculum has yet to be fully implemented, and there is concern “we don’t give our young faculty enough protected time, and we give them too much administrative load, for career development.”

The committee also took note of the fact basic sciences are offered through other colleges, he said, “and they don’t like it.” In addition, the accreditation body will be closely following the progress of the Academic Health Sciences project.

Many changes have taken place within the program, and there are likely more to come as the college begins to address new initiatives in medical education taking place on a national level. Albritton said there is a movement afoot to increase the total number of students in Canadian medical schools. To meet the national goal, the U of S college would have to admit an additional 20 students per year, but he cautioned “we must balance resources against student volume and need.”

This year, the college has about 200 Saskatchewan applicants who meet all the requirements for admission to the college, “but we only have room for 54.”

The college is also considering a recommendation that Canadian schools increase their residency positions by 20 per cent to accommodate international medical school graduates. Currently, each school in Canada is required to provide one residency spot for each graduate. The U of S already exceeds that by four positions.

Albritton said meeting the demand for physicians in Saskatchewan, and Canada, will likely mean a blend of both increased enrolment and additional residency positions at the U of S.

Although probation has been lifted, the accreditation cycle rolls on with the committee’s next visit to the U of S scheduled to take place in 2008-09.


For more information, contact communications.office@usask.ca

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