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LCME grants preliminary accreditation: UTRGV School of Medicine now accepting applications

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RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – OCT. 16, 2015 – The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine is now recruiting its inaugural class of students, after receiving preliminary accreditation from the federally recognized Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME).

The LCME designation allows the UTRGV School of Medicine to function as a medical school and implement its academic programs and curriculum.

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Scheduled to open in fall 2016, the UTRGV School of Medicine plans to enroll 50 students into its charter class.

“We are very pleased by the LCME’s review of our medical school,” said Dr. Francisco Fernandez, inaugural dean of the School of Medicine and vice president for Medical Affairs. “Creating a brand new medical school is quite the challenge. Our deans, faculty and staff deserve credit for two years of hard work, including our LCME educational lead — Dr. Leonel Vela — who was the regional dean when The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) regional campus and planning process began. We are in the best of hands with Dr. Vela as our senior associate dean for education.”

The LCME accreditation is a peer-review process of quality assurance that determines whether a medical school program located in the United States or Canada meets established standards in medical education. The first step in the process is the three-stage preliminary accreditation to recruit and matriculate students.

“We’ve only just begun, but it is a great start,” Fernandez said.

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In preparing to obtain LCME accreditation, representatives from each of UTRGV’s campuses, UTHSCSA and The University of Texas School of Public Health-Brownsville, were recruited to serve on committees in five dedicated areas — institutional setting, educational programs, educational resources, medical students and faculty. Each committee worked collectively with content experts to appropriately address questions and prepare the school’s self-study database.

Fernandez said the representatives were terrific partners in this effort and deserve much of the credit for the application. The UTRGV School of Medicine was specifically commended at the time of the site survey for the quality of the self-study and curriculum.

“The community and the region, as well as students now applying to our medical school,  should see the preliminary LCME accreditation as validation that their medical education will be among the very best available,” UTRGV founding President Guy Bailey said.

“Future students, as well as future faculty members, can consider UTRGV a place of very high quality, offering educational and teaching opportunities that are first class,” he said.

Obtaining preliminary accreditation from the LCME is the latest step in the development of the UTRGV School of Medicine.

In April, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree for the school. The approval of the degree affords students in the Rio Grande Valley the opportunity to pursue a career in medicine that has never before been possible. 

Accreditation is pending from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states, including Texas.

The UTRGV M.D. program will have an innovative curriculum in which medical students will have early exposure to clinical experiences and service learning opportunities. Students and faculty also will have the opportunity to engage in inter-professional-team collaborative care and research in diabetes, behavioral sciences, neurosciences, infectious diseases and population and community health. 

UTRGV’s M.D. program will be one of two initiated by Texas public institutions since the founding of the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine in El Paso in 2008. 

Regional facilities housing the UTRGV School of Medicine include the existing Regional Academic Health Center in Harlingen and the UTRGV Smart Hospital, a 15,000-square-foot state-of-the-art simulation teaching hospital, also in Harlingen. In addition, construction is under way in Edinburg on a $54 million medical school building.

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