Each year, over 50,000 pre-med students reach the top of their individual mountains through the completion of their grueling undergraduate coursework. On the cusp of accomplishing all that they have struggled and fought to achieve throughout their last three and a half years, they begin the application process for med school. Only around two-fifths of these applicants will realize their dreams of entrance upon first try into one of the 179 institutions stationed in the United States. All of these first-class institutions are phenomenal and surely will set students up to become great leaders, physicians, researchers and so on. After all, they are all held to the same pristine standard and likewise meet the criteria, right? Well, all but one— that one just happens to be your very own Saint Louis University School of Medicine.
In short, SLU Med was recently placed on probation by the Liaison Committee on Medical Committee for noncompliance in 20 action terms. The institution has 24 months to make necessary changes or risk losing accreditation. There is currently an elaborate, extensive plan of action in place to ensure that this does not happen.
When I first caught wind of the probation, I felt completely and utterly dispirited. Although, I am not a premed student and will more than likely never directly be a part of SLU Med, the probation really hit home for me. I am enrolled in the six year direct-admit physical therapy program, I am in class on the med campus three days a week and I feel that I have a direct relationship with the successes and failures experienced by SLU. With the expansion of residence halls in the past few years and excitement of remodeling efforts, I felt jubilation and joy to be a part of such a great up-and-coming institution and community. However, when I hear of instances including layoffs, debt and probation, it really rubs me the wrong way. When I chose to spend my collegiate years at Saint Louis University, I expected constant growth and development to be ever present and for SLU to continue to advance its rank as a top jesuit institution. At this point in time, it seems as if there has reached an equilibrium between positive and negative events that has placed that advancement at a standstill.
Nonetheless, hope is the great equalizer in the world in which we live. Regardless of the Med School probation, there is ample reason for students such as myself to bask in the curiosity and excitement of what the future may hold, rather than dwell in anger about the facts of the past. Has SLU had a stretch of less than ideal occurrences in the last six months? Undoubtedly. Is there considerable hope for change in the future? Absolutely. It would be one thing for the students and staff at SLU to hang their heads and hide in embarrassment due to recent adversity, but that is not who we are as a university. Instead, we will own our actions, or lack thereof, and make the necessary changes and adaptations moving forward to ensure that Saint Louis University can be the best version of itself moving forward into the future.
Thus far, I am pleased with the transparency and inclusivity with which the University has addressed this issue, and I am impressed with how SLU plans to resolve it. Another one of the main reasons I chose SLU was for the sense of community that is present through the highs and the lows of life. When you have such a tight-knit community, it is incredibly important to remain optimistic and supportive through the bad, so that the good times will be that much better.
Sidenote: According to U.S News, SLU Med is currently ranked #49 for Best Primary Care Program and #67 for Best Research Institutions.