Statement of Jeffrey S. Akman, M.D.

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November 09, 2011


Statement of Jeffrey S. Akman, M.D.

Interim Vice Provost for Health Affairs and Dean
The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences

In October 2011, the Office of the Provost received three letters from students who stated that they were enrolled in Physician Assistant courses in 2010 for which they received grades but no instruction. The Provost’s office notified my office, and we immediately launched an investigation. We discovered that Venetia Orcutt, Ph.D., program director and department chair of the Physician Assistant program, had been assigned to teach a sequence of three one credit courses called Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM), over the course of three semesters in 2010. The first one-credit course, EBM-1, was an in-person course; EBM 2 and 3 were designed as online courses and were for one credit each. We determined that, in fact, Dr. Orcutt did not actually teach the two online modules of EBM but nevertheless awarded the grade of A to all the students who had been enrolled in the course.

This situation is clearly unacceptable and, on behalf of the university, I immediately accepted Dr. Orcutt’s resignation. The School of Medicine and Health Sciences and the university are committed to taking whatever steps are necessary to ensure that a similar situation will never occur again.

At the same time, we undertook a comprehensive review of each of the individual PA students’ course work and determined that this group of students met the learning objectives for EBM 2 and 3 through other courses, clinical experience and educational activities embedded throughout the curriculum.

In light of the foregoing, the university has decided to implement the following course of action for these students:

1. Tuition will be refunded for both the second and spring semesters of EBM;

2. Credit for these two semesters will remain on the students’ transcripts on the grounds that these credits have been earned through actual experiences during clinical rotations and other coursework taken during the program; and,

3. Any of these students who wishes to do so will have the opportunity to take the second and third semesters of EBM online at no additional charge for continuing medical education credit that will be issued through our Office of Continuing Education for the Health Professions.

I am appointing an independent review committee comprising faculty members from outside the School of Medicine and Health Sciences. The committee will thoroughly review all aspects of this unfortunate event to determine what occurred and how to prevent a similar lapse in the future. I am asking that the committee make recommendations to me before the end of the calendar year.

Let me emphasize that we take these allegations most seriously. Such egregious breaches of professional ethics and academic standards will not be tolerated at George Washington.

-GW-

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Michelle Sherrard - 202-994-1423 - [email protected]
Candace Smith - 202-994-1423 - [email protected]

 

-GW-

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