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Mike Fant, Nashville Tennessee
A national accrediting agency has placed Meharry Medical College’s education on probation after an inspection earlier this year found “notable areas of concern,” including a shortage of faculty and student services, college officials said.
The news comes 10 months after the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education placed Meharry’s School of Medicine on trial. In that case, the probation was lifted last month, Meharry said.
In this most recent case, the decision came from the Medical Education Liaison Committee. Agency spokesperson Stuart Heiser declined to comment, saying his organization is only allowed to disclose the accreditation status of a particular program.
From Friday the The website of the Liaison Committee shows Meharry is fully accredited and does not indicate probationary status, which was disclosed by Meharry President and CEO James Hildreth in a Nov. 9 letter to students and faculty.
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Hildreth said the program will remain accredited and daily activities and classes will not be affected.
“We will now work with (the liaison committee) to develop an action plan to address these concerns as quickly and thoroughly as possible,” Hildreth wrote in the letter to students and faculty about the probation status. “We are naturally disappointed to be in this position, but we appreciate the feedback (from the Liaison Committee) and see this process as an opportunity to grow, learn and become stronger as a 21st century medical school.”
The letter did not address specific shortcomings cited by the Liaison Committee. Hildreth could not be reached for comment on Friday.
But Jeannette South-Paul, Meharry’s senior vice president and chief academic officer, told The Tennessean that a visit to the liaison committee in March revealed a number of “infrastructure” shortcomings.
They include insufficient broadband internet access for students, insufficient 24-hour study places and insufficient access to student financial aid, career and welfare advice. South-Paul also said students were not evaluated in a timely manner due to a shortage of faculty members, a problem the college hopes to quickly remedy with new hirings, South-Paul said.
“We are, as you can imagine, disappointed with this (probationary) finding, but it is part of the process medical schools go through to be reviewed by an outside creditor to see if we can meet their guidelines,” she said. “We are confident that we will address these findings and that our students will not miss a thing. They will continue to receive their degrees in a timely manner.”
Chartered in 1915, but with origin Dating back to 1876, Meharry Medical College is one of the nation’s oldest and largest institutions historically established to train African Americans in health science careers.
The Nashville mayor’s office confirmed Friday that Hildreth spoke with Mayor John Cooper about probation last week. Although the college is not part of the Metro government, the situation led to a statement of support from the mayor’s office:
“Nashville is proud that Meharry Medical College has called our city home since the last 20th century and produces a significant percentage of black physicians in our country,” Cooper spokesman TJ Ducklo said. He added: “Mayor Cooper and Dr. Hildreth discussed how the city can continue to support Meharry’s work as one of the nation’s leading institutions for aspiring medical professionals.”
Frank Gluck is the health care reporter for The Tennessean. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @FrankGluck.
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