To the Editor:
The nation’s first new medical school in over 20 years was established at Florida State University (FSU) in 2000.1 We hear comments at various national meetings such as “We won’t make the mistakes that FSU made” and decided to write this letter to set things straight!
Being the first is never easy. Our school had to overcome major difficulties to create itself, but those triumphs helped pave the way for the wave of new medical schools now in various stages of LCME accreditation. For example, time has proven the success of our “controversial” medical education program, and our students are succeeding brilliantly by all important measures.
A history lesson is in order. In 1999, a study showed that Florida needed to train more physicians and that the rest of the United States needed more physicians too. This was a highly controversial topic at the time. In fact, it would be four or five years before the national conventional wisdom and the AAMC endorsed the need for more physicians. Why this walk down memory lane? Because this was the hostile political environment in which the FSU College of Medicine (COM) was born and the environment in which the accreditation process was navigated with the LCME.
In 2000, when FSU COM began its journey to full accreditation, there were no guidelines for new and developing schools. There was no way for a developing school to tell its story in the “one size fits all” LCME database that had been used for years. There were no site visitors or LCME members available who had experience during the period when the last new medical schools had achieved full accreditation in the late 1970s and the early 1980s. We think that these were the main reasons that FSU’s initial application for provisional accreditation was turned down. However, the LCME quickly modified procedures in an ongoing process, and FSU COM achieved full accreditation in February 2005 before its first class graduated. One result of this experience was the user-friendly accreditation process now available for new schools.
Our school gave the LCME the opportunity to reassess its policies and procedures. It was on-the-job training for both sides. The new process in place today is the result of the “FSU experience,” which was painful to all concerned. But our young school and the accreditation process are the better for it.
Myra M. Hurt, PhD
Professor of biomedical sciences and associate dean for research and graduate programs, Florida State University College of Medicine, Tallahassee, Florida; (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Alma B. Littles, MD
Professor of family medicine and senior associate dean for academic affairs, Florida State University College of Medicine, Tallahassee, Florida.
1 Hurt MM, Harris JO. Founding a new college of medicine at Florida State University. Acad Med. 2005;80:973–979.