Full international accreditation restored to UG's medical programme
Full international accreditation for the next four years has been granted to the University of Guyana [UG’]s School of Medicine. This development, which became official last week, was confirmed yesterday by Vice Chancellor, Professor Ivelaw Griffith. Professor Griffith said that although full accreditation has been granted, it is however with some conditions. He said too, that the University will shortly issue a statement on the newest accreditation development. Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, Dr. Emanuel Cummings, directed this publication to the Vice Chancellor. “He is the fittest person to comment on this.”
Regaining the accreditation was something that the University’s Vice Chancellor had identified as a top priority. This publication understands that the accreditation body, the Jamaica-based Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Education, Medicine and other Health Professions [CAAM-HP], granted accreditation to UG because of the tireless efforts that were engaged to put recommended measures in place. The body, it was revealed, in making its reaccreditation decision had in fact given keen recognition to the outstanding leadership of the University’s Vice Chancellor in the quest to put certain measures in place.
Also taken into consideration were the efforts of key officers, including the Director of the School of Medicine and the Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, in this regard. But it wasn’t only the “highly motivated and committed faculty” that contributed to the CAAM-HP decision but also the “enthusiastic, motivated and high quality students.” Added to this, CAAM-HP’s decision took into consideration the work undertaken by the curriculum team to develop a new 2017 curriculum which this publication understands is likely to be up for revision in 2021.
CAAM-HP is the legally constituted body established in 2003 under the aegis of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), empowered to determine and prescribe standards and to accredit programmes of medical, dental, veterinary and other health professions on behalf of the contracting parties in CARICOM. The acquisition of accreditation is therefore dependent on an institution’s adherence to certain stipulated standards. This translated to the School of Medicine working towards achieving some 140-plus standards established by CAAM-HP. The standards are divided into several areas including infrastructure, educational resources, faculty and the curriculum itself, and several others. In essence, the accreditation body, this publication was informed, was able to address a gamut of concerns raised by CAAM-HP in its report of 2013.
Based on information out of CAAM-HP, accreditation for the UG medical programme was revoked because there were no progress reports forthcoming from the tertiary institution for the years 2014 and 2015. But the university was not in a position to submit these reports, since a number of measures had to first be put in place. Several of these related to infrastructure, educational resources, faculty and the curriculum itself, among others. One of the concerns of CAAM-HP that had led to the withdrawal of international accreditation in 2015 was the fact that there was no standing Memorandum of Understanding between the University, the GPHC and the Ministry of Public Health, making these clinical practice sessions formal.
Moreover, among the measures that the University had to address, leading up to the CAAM-HP assessment process, were the introduction of plans for a new Health Sciences Faculty, improved clinical and lecture facilities and other amenities for medical students. The accreditation body had also focused on the university’s staff development programme to which the majority of staff had engaged over the last few years. It was observed by CAAM-HP that that programme had in fact produced a positive change and a move toward using more active learning methods which have been built into the new curriculum.
There were also measures that were put in place by the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation [GPHC,] which is tasked with aiding the clinical aspect of the UG medical programme. These were reportedly also commended by CAAM-HP which recognised that efforts in this regard has allowed for the availability of a wide range of the clinical material to the students, and that the early patient contact which makes the students learning more relevant.
However, it is expected that other measures, including the upgrading of facilities and the addition of new infrastructure, will be among the factors that will help to ensure that the accreditation status is sustained. The accreditation path was paved following a CAAM-HP site visit in November of last year. During the site visit both the Turkeyen Campus and the GPHC were under scrutiny.
UG School of Medicine regains accreditation
The School of Medicine at The University of Guyana (UG) was recently “accorded Accreditation for four years from 2017-2021 by the Caribbean Authority for Education in Medicine and other Health Professions (CAAM-HP). The decision to grant re-accreditation with a few conditions to the UG School of Medicine was made at the July 2017 meeting of CAAM-HP. The School first gained accreditation in 2008 and functioned as a professionally accredited institution up to 2015.
The re-accreditation of the School, located in the Faculty of Health Sciences, Turkeyen campus, follows a site visit to UG in November of 2016 by a team of evaluators from CAAM-HP, to conduct a comprehensive re-evaluation of the teaching/learning facilities available at the School and meet with the various administrative sections of the University and medical students. The team comprised Team Chair, Professor Christopher Stephens, Emeritus Professor of Medical Education, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, UK; Team Secretary, Professor Jonas Innies Addae, former Head of Preclinical Sciences Dept. and former Deputy Dean, Faculty of Medical Sciences, The University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus, Trinidad & Tobago; and Professor Trevor McCartney, Professor of Surgery and Deputy Dean, Faculty of Medical Sciences, The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Jamaica and former Medical Chief of Staff, University Hospital of the West Indies, Jamaica. The team was accompanied by Ms Lorna Parkins, Executive Director of CAAM-HP and Professor Emerita Marlene Hamilton, Chair of the CAAM-HP Council.
In commenting on this long awaited announcement Vice-Chancellor Professor Ivelaw Lloyd Griffith congratulated the faculty, students and staff of the School of Medicine “on this signally important decision” and expressed appreciation to personnel and students of the School, the University Library, Registry, Estate Management, Information Technology, Personnel Division and other units, His Excellency President David Granger, the Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Education , PAHO/WHO, and the Georgetown Public Hospital, for their contributions to this successful outcome. He stated that "This investment of time and resources by the university in the re-accreditation of the School of Medicine is a tribute to the entire university and it strengthens our brand overall as we pursue Project Renaissance." He further said, “however, substantial amounts of time and money will be required to complete the needed enhancements of one of our flagship programmes." This sentiment was echoed by the Director of the School Dr Ronald Aaron who emphasised that the accreditation was due to "community effort, now the real work begins".
Shafali Milton, President of the University of Guyana Medical Students’ Association, expressed pride in the role played by the students in the eventual outcome. She said, “The road to regain our status as a regionally accredited medical school was filled with countless challenges, however, we, the student body were undaunted and did everything in our power to assist. We are elated at the result of hard work from both the administration and the student body and on this note; we would like to thank everyone who contributed in the process. The UGSM has regained its position as a prestigious institution in the Caribbean, one which the current students as well as its alumni can be proud to be associated with. We look forward to new endeavors as the journey continues".
Dean of The Faculty of Health Sciences, Dr Emanuel Cummings, noted in his brief history of the School that it was established in 1985 in the Faculty of Health Sciences as a Medical Practitioners programme which included four years of medical training and two years of internship. This was upgraded in 1990 to a five-year programme followed by a one-year internship. To date, the School has graduated more than 500 doctors who are working in Europe, North America, Asia, Africa, Australia, the CARICOM Region and locally in leading positions in the Health Care Sector. Notable graduates include the current Junior Minister of Public Health, The Chief Medical Officer, Heads of Paediatrics, General Surgery, Orthopaedics, Cardiology, Emergency Medicine and Internal Medicine at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC).
UG IN BRIEF
With a current enrollment of some 8,000 students, The University of Guyana (UG) has graduated more than 20,000 students who have gone on to successful careers locally, regionally and internationally. The University is also a major contributor to the national economy and to business and industry. Established in 1963 on a part-time basis with shared space at Queens College, UG moved to its own campus at Turkeyen in 1970 and expanded in 2000 with the addition of the Tain Campus. It now offers more than 60 Under-graduate and Post-graduate Programmes including Engineering, Environmental Studies, Forestry, Urban Planning and Management, Tourism Studies, Education, Creative Arts, Economics, Law, Medicine, Optometry and Nursing. Several online programmes are available and The UG also offers extra-mural classes at four locations through its Institute of Distance and Continuing Education (IDCE). The UG also offers the opportunity for student engagement in debating, sports, and cultural, religious and professional activities.
Public Relations Division
August 2, 2017
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- The University of Guyana