It was an uncomfortable few years – for the University at Buffalo Medical School and for all of Western New York – when the school was threatened with the loss of accreditation for its surgery and pediatric surgery residency programs.
Not only is the Medical School a big player in the regional economy, its profile and its influence are about to rise significantly as the school prepares to move from the university’s South Campus to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus in downtown Buffalo.
The programs were put on probation in 2011, and while there has been no formal explanation, issues apparently included an insufficient number of faculty doing research, failure to comply with a directive to limit residents’ work weeks to 80 hours and poor communications between residents and supervising doctors.
The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education acted last week to restore the programs’ standing. In 2013, the council also restored the accreditation for UB’s dermatology program, which ran into difficulties after four faculty members left. The university reorganized the program and accreditation was restored before the year ended.
These are all welcome and well-deserved outcomes. UB and its Medical School were confronted with significant challenges that could have undermined their reputations, and with them, their ability to recruit top faculty and students.
They met the challenges and kept alive the promise of the UB Medical School for providing skilled doctors and creating a powerful and synergistic new health economy in Buffalo.
Still, it is troubling that matters were ever allowed to get so far as to threaten the accreditation of these programs. In particular, having been warned by the council in 2003 to limit residents’ work weeks to 80 hours, why was that very issue able to threaten the Medical School’s standing nine years later?
The UB Medical School is about to become even more important to the regional economy. The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is developing into something approaching a world-class health care destination, and the Medical School will play an integral role in its success when it opens its doors there in 2016.
It won’t do for a key component of Buffalo’s expanding health care economy to be periodically threatened with extinction. This is the time for leaders of the university to ensure that the Medical School has in place systems and practices that will keep the school well within the council’s good graces.
For today, though, it is enough to celebrate the reaccreditation of these critical programs. There was a threat and it has now passed. That’s good news.