The UNLV School of Medicine has received provisional accreditation by the accrediting authority for medical schools throughout the U.S. and Canada, the university confirmed Wednesday.
That keeps the school on its projected timeline to achieve full accreditation status by the 2021-22 school year.
To achieve provisional accreditation, UNLV submitted a self-study to the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, which was followed by a site visit by the committee to determine if the medical school’s program met 12 standards for education and organization.
The school will repeat the process as it applies for full accreditation in the next two years.
It’s a complex undertaking, according to UNLV President Marta Meana, who credited faculty and administrators for preparing the lengthy self-study document and then sitting for interviews with evaluators.
Provisional accreditation helps with recruitment, Meana said, as it signals to students and staff that the school is taking the right steps.
“When we were a startup, it was a leap of faith for everyone, but we’re no longer a startup,” Meana told the Review-Journal. “It shows the medical community and the Las Vegas community that we’re on track, we’re doing things right and we’re meeting the expectations of the medical body.”
The school also recently earned full accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education for its residencies and advanced training fellowships.
“The LCME sets a high standard and the team at UNLV has met that standard,” said Mark Doubrava, vice chair of the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents, in a statement. “The accreditation reinforces that the UNLV School of Medicine is on track and on schedule to graduate new physicians and meet the region’s growing health care needs.”
The School of Medicine welcomed its third class of students to the temporary Shadow Lane Biotech Research Center campus this summer and is recruiting for its fourth class. The inaugural class of 60 students will graduate in spring 2021.
William Gravley, a member of the original cohort, said he could not pass up the opportunity to go to medical school in his hometown, though it meant taking a chance on a then-new school.
Accreditation will help attract much-needed researchers and specialists to Southern Nevada, Gravley said.
“It’s a very underserved area medically,” Gravley said. “It means a great deal in generating a medical community that’s interested in pushing boundaries.”
Gravley also said there is still work to do: without any postgraduate opportunities in the fields he is interested in available the Vegas area, he will have to leave after graduating.
Though the school is on track to meet its accreditation goals, it has faced some setbacks in developing its facilities. A new medical school building was projected to be in the final stages of construction by fall 2021, but funding setbacks forced the school to return to the drawing board as leaders believed the deadline was no longer feasible.
In July, the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents approved a plan to fund a permanent building through the sale of $125 million in bonds, to be paid back at $7.35 million per year via fundraising or through the use of unrestricted university funds.
The proposed 140,000-square-foot building, to be built on a 9-acre parcel of land at Shadow and Pinto lanes, will primarily house classrooms and other student services, leaving faculty and administrative spaces in a leased building on 2040 W. Charleston Blvd.