AUSTIN, Texas — The Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin has received preliminary accreditation — a major milestone that allows the school to begin recruiting its first class of students, implementing its innovative academic programs and curriculum, and creating a model healthy city and community in Austin and Travis County.
UT Austin President Gregory L. Fenves and Dell Medical School Dean Clay Johnston were joined by state Sen. Kirk Watson, Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt and other community leaders on Monday to celebrate the announcement of the school’s accreditation. This designation, awarded by the federally recognized Liaison Committee on Medical Education, will allow the Dell Medical School to function as a medical school and — in less than a year — to welcome its first students.
“There can be only one inaugural class, and the university and our community are rightly excited this accreditation now allows us to recruit the class,” Fenves said.
“Building UT’s Dell Medical School from the ground up — conceptually, and then organizationally and physically — at a major university makes it unique in American medical education today. This bold endeavor combines the intellectual resources of a top research university with unfettered thinking that allows us to examine every assumption about medical education and health care itself. And it will be a huge boon to our community and the people of Travis County, who have our heartfelt thanks for their support.”
The Dell Medical School’s curriculum, which was developed with the help of more than 250 physicians, education experts, students, UT Austin faculty members and other partners, will train and support physician leaders who are as comfortable taking on transformational health challenges as they are in caring for patients. The curriculum pulls from the most creative and effective teaching practices nationwide and introduces innovations to ensure that students’ education reflects the challenges of modern medicine.
One such feature is the “Innovation, Leadership and Discovery Year,” through which third-year Dell Medical students will have the option to work on projects related to health care delivery redesign, population health and informatics, or more traditional research, and have the opportunity to pursue dual-degree programs.
“We are rethinking everything about medical education and the appropriate role of a physician in the community. As a result, we designed a school in which students will learn in ways that are fundamentally different from their counterparts at established medical schools — ways that, we think, represent the evolving needs and challenges of 21st century health and health care,” Johnston said. “The accreditation shows that we have already begun to fundamentally change medical education in a way that is compelling to the medical education establishment.”
The curriculum also reflects the unprecedented investment that the Austin and Travis County community has made in the Dell Medical School. In 2012, Travis County voters approved an initiative that increased property taxes to transform health and health care across the community, in part by creating a medical school at UT Austin.
Dell Medical School students will train and provide care in community clinics operated through funding from Central Health, Travis County’s health care district. They also will learn in the region’s Level 1 trauma center and primary teaching hospital, operated by Seton Healthcare Family, which is investing $295 million to build the Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas to replace University Medical Center Brackenridge in 2017. And students will have “longitudinal” primary care experiences, during which they will follow patients alongside community physicians and at clinical sites to gain greater insight into the prevention and management of diseases and chronic health issues over time.
“Our students will be on the ground, in our hospitals and clinics, revolutionizing the way people get and stay healthy and helping to make Austin a model healthy city,” Johnston said. “And they will make us all proud by helping to make the Dell Medical School a model for medical schools across the country.”
The Liaison Committee on Medical Education is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the reliable authority for the accreditation of medical education programs leading to the M.D. degree in the United States and Canada. The LCME determined that the UT Austin Dell Medical School has made sufficient progress toward compliance with relevant accreditation standards and developed satisfactory plans for its educational program. Preliminary accreditation of the education program was awarded, allowing the program to begin accepting applications for enrollment. The preliminary accreditation is an important step in the LCME’s process that allows the Dell Medical School to recruit students and administer its education program. Full accreditation is expected in 2020 after the first class matriculates and the LCME determines that the Dell Medical School can demonstrate the effectiveness of the education program and has demonstrated continued compliance.