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A year after being tapped to head the state's only academic medical center, Dr. LouAnn Woodward is poised to lead the agency setting the tone for medical education throughout the entire country and Canada.
On July 1, the vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine will become chair-elect of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) for 12 months before taking over as chair of the accrediting body in July 2017 for a one-year term.
Woodward, who has led UMMC since March 1, 2015, was appointed in 2013 to a three-year membership to the LCME and was reappointed this year; she has served on its executive committee and chairs its subcommittee on International Relations.
Sponsored by the Association of American Medical Colleges and the American Medical Association, the LCME establishes benchmarks for U.S.- and Canadian-chartered medical education programs operated by universities or medical schools.
“Across the country, there are many changes in the way we teach medicine and in the profession itself,” Woodward said. “It's an exciting time to be involved in medical school accreditation.”
In recent years, changes affecting accreditation standards include a transition to an online, rather than a paper, self-study process; an increased emphasis on meeting the nation's need for primary care physicians; and preparing for the impacts of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on medical schools.
“I'm honored to receive this opportunity,” Woodward said, “and humbled that my colleagues have confidence in me to take it on.”
The U.S. Department of Education recognizes the LCME for its role in accrediting medical degree education programs in the United States. Established in 1942, the agency is also acknowledged by the World Federation for Medical Education.
Most state boards of licensure require that medical schools earn accreditation from the LCME, signifying that they meet national standards for the awarding of an M.D.
Accreditation normally occurs every eight years and covers standards in five areas: institutional setting, educational program for the M.D. degree, medical students, faculty and educational resources.
In order to receive federal grants for medical education and participate in federal loan programs, an institution must be accredited by the LCME.
Four years ago, Woodward helped shepherd the School of Medicine through its own accreditation process. After appraising the school on nearly 130 standards following an on-site visit in 2012, the LCME reported that the education program complied in every area, a rare occurrence for any medical school.
Woodward serves as one of 18 members of the organization, currently chaired by Dr. John Fogarty, professor and dean of the Florida State University College of Medicine in Tallahassee.
“LouAnn has done a great job in her time on the board, reviewing and making recommendations on some of our most difficult cases that come before our committee,” Fogarty said.
“We were very pleased that she accepted our invitation to run for chair-elect, and she was confirmed unanimously by our board.”
Woodward, also a professor of emergency medicine, is a native Mississippian. She earned her undergraduate degree from Mississippi State University and received her medical education at UMMC, where she also completed her residency training.
She served for several years as associate vice chancellor for health affairs and vice dean of the medical school under her predecessor, Dr. James Keeton.
During Woodward's year of service as chair, the LCME will observe its 75th anniversary.
“The LCME is a well-respected organization in setting the standards for medical education,” Woodward said. “I feel fortunate to be in a leadership role as we celebrate this important milestone in its history.”
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