Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso’s medical education program has been granted full accreditation for eight years without citations by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), the best possible outcome of an application for continuing accreditation.
The LCME is the U.S. Department of Education-recognized accrediting body for programs leading to the M.D. degree. There are three stages of accreditation: preliminary, provisional and full. The Paul L. Foster School of Medicine has been fully accredited since 2013.
Richard Brower, M.D., associate dean for medical education, said the LCME’s survey team was impressed by the school’s educational resources, committed faculty, and well-documented philosophy and theoretical basis for its curriculum.
Clinical integration is key to the PLFSOM’s curriculum. Unlike many traditional medical schools, PLFSOM students are immersed in diagnostic reasoning and clinical skill-building from the very start of their medical education. They learn the scientific foundations of medicine and related diagnostic skills based on common clinical presentations throughout the first and second years. During this phase they also participate in community explorations and assessments, as well as a unique program of fully integrated Spanish language instruction.
“The LCME is very interested in the modernization of medical education,” Dr. Brower said. “And we were well-prepared to emphasize how the development and evolution of the PLFSOM curriculum has been deliberately based on settled principles of adult learning and educational psychology — this definitely worked in our favor.”
From the first day of medical school, PLFSOM students are taught to think like a doctor. Active learning is encouraged through simulation exercises in the school’s Center for Advanced Teaching and Assessment in Clinical Simulation. ATACS uses high-fidelity manikins that simulate everything from cardiac arrest to a vaginal birth. Students also interact with “standardized patients,” real people trained to act out symptoms of medical conditions. These simulation activities help students learn to recognize conditions while developing their people skills and bedside manner.
In the final two years of medical school, students interact with actual patients in a wide range of clinical settings, and gain knowledge in ways that no textbook or simulation could ever teach. These experiences provide students with the background to lead the nation in medical care and prevention upon graduation.
With accreditation through 2026, PLFSOM leaders are looking at ways the school can continue to evolve.
“The great thing about the school’s definitively positive accreditation outcome is that we know we’re on an eight-year cycle, and this establishes an advantageous timeline for educational program enhancement and growth” Dr. Brower said.
With TTUHSC El Paso’s Medical Sciences Building II slated for completion in 2019, TTUHSC El Paso’s priority now will be to align its physical planning with its educational planning and enrollment goals.
The PLFSOM’s LCME accreditation is the third accreditation to be awarded to TTUHSC El Paso in 2018. Previously accredited under Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock, TTUHSC El Paso was granted separate institutional accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges in June. Also in June, the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing earned its 10-year programmatic accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
More information about the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine may be found at elpaso.ttuhsc.edu/som.