KALAMAZOO — Achieving two key accreditation milestones this summer shows that the Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine at Western Michigan University is meeting expectations.
Two years after enrolling the first medical students, the Stryker School of Medicine this month received candidate status for accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission that accredits colleges. In June, the medical school received provisional accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME).
Both are milestones toward the Stryker School of Medicine eventually achieving full accreditation from each organization.
Taken together, they indicate the medical school meets the expectations and standards for quality and performance, said Michele Serbenski, the medical school’s associate dean for planning and performance excellence.
“We are executing the plans that we have had from day one when we started the medical school,” Serbenski said. “We are on track and on time with the medical school’s development.”
The Stryker School of Medicine has operated since 2012 with preliminary accreditation from the LCME, an accrediting body for medical schools in the U.S. and Canada. Sponsored by the American Medical Association and the Association of American Medical Colleges, the LCME is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
Many state licensing boards require that a person seeking a medical license graduate from an LCME-accredited medical school. Accreditation also makes graduates eligible for residency programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.
The Stryker School of Medicine expects to earn full LCME accreditation in February 2018, three months before the inaugural class graduates.
LCME standards touch on “everything about the school” — from curriculum, facilities and student support services, to governance, finances and faculty experience and skills — and “are really the guidebook for medical school development,” Serbenski said.
“It’s the ‘Gold Seal of Approval,’ if you will, that we are doing everything that we need to do,” she said. “This is important for a new school because it’s confirmation and affirmation that we’re doing the right things and creating a high-quality medical education program. We’re now prepared and ready for the next step.”
The Chicago-based Higher Learning Commission accredits all colleges and universities in the U.S., no matter the degree they offer. Accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission is required for colleges to participate in federal student financial aid programs.
Lasting two to four years, candidate status means the medical school meets eligibility requirements and is progressing toward a full accreditation that can come after the first class of students graduate. The medical school hopes to achieve initial accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission in 2018, Serbenski said.
The Stryker School of Medicine, after receiving candidate status from the Higher Learning Commission, can now begin seeking approval from the U.S. Department of Education to provide financial aid to existing and incoming medical students, Serbenski said. Until now, students generally have financed their medical education through private loans, she said.
The medical school hopes to become eligible by the end of 2016 or by early 2017 to provide federal financial aid, Serbenski said.
“Our students that are here will be able to benefit from it,” she said.
After years of planning between partners WMU, Borgess Health and Bronson Healthcare Group in Kalamazoo, the Stryker School of Medicine enrolled its first 54 students in 2014. Enrollment increased to 60 students in 2015 and the incoming class that starts next month will have 72 students.