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Editorial: Medical school steps aggressively toward standards

Jan. 05, 2013 @ 12:25 AM

Officials at Marshall University's Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine were stung in 2011 when the school's accrediting body placed it on probation, citing several areas where the school fell short of standards.

But officials and staff at the school quickly set to work. Within months, the interim dean, Dr. Robert Nerhood, reported that he believed most of the cited deficiencies were resolved or on track to being resolved.

The one that loomed largest, however, was student indebtedness and a degree of scholarship support for medical students that was well below the national average. That would take a while to address, Nerhood said at the time.

A year later, though, it appears the university has made substantial progress on that issue, too.

The medical school this year awarded $1.93 million in scholarships and tuition waivers. That is four-and-a-half times larger than the level of financial support offered just two years ago and more than twice the amount of aid given last year.

Making that possible was a stepped-up fundraising effort by the university. In addition, the Legislature and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin backed a $1.266 million increase in the medical school's base budget in 2012, allowing the school to take steps toward meeting the accrediting body's concerns.

The university now has a full-time assistant director of financial aid devoted strictly to medical school concerns, and personal budgeting classes have been recommended to help first-year students better handle their finances.

The final determination on the university's probationary status will come later this year. At this point, the school appears to be on a good course to meet the accrediting body's demands for improvements, including the tougher one of expanding financial support for students to help minimize their debt in the future.

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