In a state with an abundance of sunshine and skin cancer – and apparently a dearth of dermatologists – retaining accreditation for the School of Medicine’s Dermatology Department should have been on the University of New Mexico’s radar for a long time.
And now that the accreditation has been lost, getting it restored should be front and center for the university and for Health Sciences Chancellor Paul Roth – who is also the dean of the School of Medicine.
Dr. Martha Cole McGrew, executive vice dean, said three key department employees, including the residency director and the chairman, left or retired within the past year, leaving the department with just one full-time and one part-time faculty member. That in turn led to problems supervising residents, and the subsequent loss of accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.
Did all these key faculty members depart abruptly? Shouldn’t there have been ongoing conversations about future staffing?
Five of the dermatology program’s seven residents had to find residencies elsewhere, giving “elsewhere” a better opportunity to recruit them once they finish their training.
“In order to get faculty, we’re going to have to make this a much more attractive job,” McGrew said – a revelation that perhaps should have prompted action well in advance of the dermatology faculty’s decimation. But that should be doable in a health system with a budget of nearly $2 billion and where UNMH has a surplus of more than $140 million.
Assuming the School of Medicine can find a new residency director and staff for the dermatology program by next fall – a prospect made all the less likely in such a competitive field – it would take another year to regain accreditation.
Lots of time and effort has been spent recently by the Board of Regents and UNM President Bob Frank on “rebranding” UNM and “unifying” email addresses. University leadership would do well to remember that its primary mission is educating students, in this case who will serve the medical needs of the state. That mission has, and always will, require well-trained faculty, sufficient staff and proper accreditation.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.