The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix has been granted full accreditation by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, or LCME. The LCME is the national accrediting authority for medical education programs leading to M.D. degrees in the United States and Canada.
"Earning full accreditation is an important milestone in the evolutionary history of the University of Arizona's College of Medicine – Phoenix," said UA President Robert C. Robbins, who is also a cardiothoracic surgeon. "Full accreditation assures students that they are getting an outstanding education and it demonstrates to Arizona residents that the University of Arizona is graduating exceptional physicians."
Dr. Kenneth S. Ramos, interim dean of the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix, received a call last Friday from the LCME, notifying him that the college would move from provisional accreditation status to full accreditation. The LCME website reflected this milestone on Monday.
The LCME completed its latest site visit earlier this spring. The five-member team met with 120 faculty, students and staff during its four-day review of the college's medical education, research, clinical and community programs.
"This significant milestone has been reached because of the collaborative spirit of our faculty and staff and the outstanding leadership of Dean Ramos," said Dr. Leigh A. Neumayer, interim senior vice president for the UA Health Sciences. "This announcement acknowledges the strength and excellence of this college and our ability to transform today's students into tomorrow's health care leaders."
"The journey to full accreditation has been a labor of love for faculty, staff and students at the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix," Ramos said. "I am so proud of the hard work and commitment from the subcommittees and task force who worked countless hours to prepare for site visits and complete the extensive documentation required to gain full accreditation."
The LCME will provide a comprehensive report within the next month detailing the site visit and the factors for granting full accreditation.
"The UA College of Medicine – Phoenix is a special place that offers an innovative learning environment for tomorrow's physicians," Ramos said. "It is gratifying to see the LCME acknowledge our commitment to improving the health of all Arizona."
All new medical schools undergo a rigorous process designed to standardize and optimize the quality of medical education across the U.S. and Canada. The first step in this process is "preliminary" accreditation, which the college received in 2012 and marked the point when students first were accepted as part of the separate accreditation. In 2015, the next step of "provisional" accreditation was granted, and now this final step of full accreditation. Each step involved subcommittees of faculty, staff and students reviewing all aspects of the college and the submission of hundreds of pages of documentation reviewing policies, data and details about the college. Given the challenges of the process, the college had projected to gain full accreditation in 2018.
The LCME review focuses on what is in the best interest of the students. During the accreditation process, more than 100 performance elements are evaluated to establish whether a medical school is in good standing.
Ten years ago, the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix was created to help meet the critical physician shortage in Arizona. Prior to beginning the separate accreditation process, it was a branch campus under the accreditation of the UA College of Medicine – Tucson and to date has graduated 354 physicians. Now the UA becomes one of only a few universities with two separate, fully accredited medical schools.