After months of preparation, the University of the Virgin Islands Board of Trustees at a special meeting Monday passed a resolution approving materials and agreements to be submitted to the Liaison Committee for Medical Education (LCME) for the accreditation process of the UVI School of Medicine.
Documents approved by the Board of Trustees included:
Affiliation agreements with the following universities and hospitals were also approved:
Dec. 1 marks the deadline for the submission of the documents and agreements to LCME. If paperwork is not submitted by that date, it will hamper UVI’s ability to open its School of Medicine in the fall of 2016, as the university intends.
In an interview with VI Consortium, UVI President Dr. David Hall said the university’s road to accreditation of its medical school began with the hiring of Interim Dean Dr. Benjamin Sachs in May. Hall said Sachs has been responsible for spearheading the compilation of the required paperwork for accreditation.
“It is an enormous task; there is no guarantee at all that we will pass their standards, but I think we are working as hard as we can,” Dr. Hall said. “Dr. Sachs is working as hard as he can, along with a lot of people at UVI. We’ve had a lot of people in the medical community who have contributed greatly to helping us move this along, as well.”
Furthermore, the architectural designs for the construction of the medical school classroom building on St. Thomas and a simulation center on St. Croix are also required to be submitted to LCME for review and approval. Hall said the university is working with architects to complete the plans.
In addition, Hall said LCME looks for evidence of public support when it comes to granting accreditation to a public medical school, such as UVI.
“I thank the Legislature, I thank the Governor for the support they have provided because without having the support for the facilities, this would be a non-starter,” he said. “If we had not received the support of Governor de Jongh, if we had not received the support of the Legislature for the two facilities, then we could have closed up shop and I appreciate their support.”
He explained that de Jongh requested a $700,000 debt service to be approved by the Legislature in order to build the classroom building and the simulation center. After discussion and debate, the Legislature ultimately approved the Governor’s request.
“So, that means it’s not just one year; that means it’s on going, so that we can build the two facilities and the Governor has now signed off on it,” Hall explained. “We have not accessed those funds yet, because we are still in the process of designing the buildings, but the fact that we have that approval, allows us to go out and borrow money to begin to construct those buildings.”
Hall pointed out that the paperwork to be submitted to LCME will only give UVI’s School of Medicine preliminary accreditation, adding that “until those students you admit in the first year go through four years of medical training and then take the test at the end. And based on how well they do, that’s when LCME will give you full accreditation.”
Dr. Hall said UVI should have a decision about the preliminary accreditation from LCME in February, although a specific date has not been provided.
“They will do an internal review of materials once we submit them, they have a board or committee that will make the ultimate recommendation, and that group meets in February,” Hall explained.
The LCME is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the authority for the accreditation of medical education programs leading to doctor of medicine degrees. If UVI School of Medicine is given LCME accreditation, it will be the first of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean to have the designation.