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In June 2011 Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine was recommended for probation by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. After making many necessary changes the school had its probation lifted late last week.
The LCME’s complaints were in the areas of a lack of diversity for students and faculty; lower-than-average scholarship support and higher than average student debt; limited programs to promote student wellbeing, limited advising, lack of a financial aid and debt management program and curricular issues. Dr. Joseph Shapiro was hired in the spring of 2012 as the new Dean with the mission of bringing the school out of probation. Shapiro said each of the issues was addressed.
“We need to continue to build things and we need to continue to get better and better. I’m very happy with our trajectory and I’m very happy that we’re moving in the right direction,” Shapiro said.
In the areas of diversity, a new diversity director was hired, new programs have been put in place to help students find scholarships and get financial help and research has become a much more important issue at the medical school than ever before. Shapiro said the probation could turn out to be a good thing.
“Was it a blessing in disguise to be on probation? Well maybe, it certainly got people focused and people were certainly receptive to the message I brought, but we’re doing the things we should be doing now and I still find it an incredible challenge and opportunity,” Shapiro said.
"Was it a blessing in disguise to be on probation? Well maybe, it certainly got people focused," Shapiro said.
Shapiro said Marshall’s medical school can’t compare to top medical research institutions like Harvard, Yale or Penn. Instead, the school must focus on what it does well.
“If we look at numbers like how many of our students are do practice in West Virginia and how many of them ultimately do primary care practices, our numbers are pretty good and how well we’re training them and how good they are as doctors is again a hard number to get too, but those are the numbers that are kind of interesting,” Shapiro said.
The Dean said the probation period definitely hurt the recruiting the school was able to do during the two year period. But the hope is with the probation lifted, things will begin to look up.
“It certainly hurt enrollment and hurt recruitment, the year before I came on, although we traditionally recruit very well in West Virginia, we were really challenged because of probation,” Shapiro said. “Last year we recruited better for medical school, I think because we told students all the things that we were doing.”
Shapiro said although the probation has been lifted Marshall will work to continue to improve on the areas that the Liaison Committee on Medical Education questioned.