Last Updated on August 8, 2022 by Laura Turner
CNUCOM Remains in Provisional Accreditation Status; Reconsideration Hearing Scheduled February 17
On January 31, 2022, California Northstate University College of Medicine (CNUCOM) announced to its students, faculty, and staff that the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) denied the institution full accreditation status. CNUCOM remains in provisional accreditation status. The LCME will hold a reconsideration hearing on its decision on February 17.
According to the message sent by Dr. Raj Ramsamooj, LCME Faculty Accreditation Lead for CNUCOM, “the LCME determined that CNUCOM was not ‘satisfactory’ in all areas” during its site visit in March 2021. Dr. Ramsamooj further said, “We are not sure when their final decision will be made…We will know more about our accreditation timeline after the reconsideration hearing. Based on the information available as of today, there is no reason to believe that we will lose LCME accreditation.”
LCME Accreditation Process
The LCME details the process for a new medical school to obtain full accreditation. The process requires multiple steps and survey visits by the LCME. (1)
- Applicant and Candidate Status: New schools must submit an application to the LCME and be approved as a candidate medical school.
- Preliminary Accreditation: Candidate Status schools are required to obtain preliminary accreditation before beginning to recruit students. Following preliminary accreditation, a new school admits a charter class. The LCME conducts a survey visit before the charter class M2 year and determines if the school should be approved for Provisional Accreditation.
- Provisional Accreditation: Once a school has moved to provisional accreditation, the LCME conducts another survey visit early in the charter class M4 year, after which the LCME can approve the school for Full accreditation or deny accreditation. If accreditation is denied, then the LCME can allow the school to continue in Provisional accreditation status or withdraw Provisional accreditation.
- Full Accreditation: Fully accredited medical schools undergo LCME site survey visits on an ongoing basis (five years after initial accreditation and every eight years thereafter) in order to maintain their accreditation. Schools lose accreditation if the program voluntarily terminates its status or the LCME terminates its accreditation following future site survey visits.
CNUCOM received its initial preliminary accreditation from the LCME in June 2015 and seated its first class of 60 students at its campus in Elk Grove, California, less than three months later.
For-Profit Medical School
Unlike most medical schools, CNUCOM is a for-profit institution. The school is planning to build a teaching hospital, which will have a 501(c)(3) nonprofit structure; the hospital was moved to the nonprofit structure in 2019 to seek approval for bonds to support construction. (2) The Flexner report, issued in 1910, kicked off significant reforms in medical education, including requiring that medical schools be nonprofit institutions. Before the reforms, for-profit schools proliferated. (3)
The LCME eliminated the accreditation standard that medical schools be nonprofit institutions in 2013, following a court ruling in 1996. (4)
According to a 2019 AMA report, the four-year cost of attendance at CNUCOM is between $240,000 and $255,000. (5) This cost of attendance is slightly higher than the average for other private medical schools, about $235,000. (6)
Article updated 2/13/2022 to clarify that the planned teaching hospital has a nonprofit structure, but that the medical school remains for profit.
Article updated 2/3/2022 to indicate that CNUCOM converted its corporate structure from for-profit to nonprofit in 2019.
- “Accreditation Process Overview”, https://lcme.org/about/accreditation-process-overview/
- Le, Sunny MD, “CNU Becomes Non-Profit & City Council Approves $900 Million In Bonds Through TEFRA For New Hospital” Elk Grove Tribune, August 29, 2019, https://elkgrovetribune.com/cnu-becomes-non-profit-city-council-approves-900-million-bonds-tefra/
- Flexner, Abraham, “Medical Education in the United States and Canada” carnegiefoundation.org, 1910, http://archive.carnegiefoundation.org/publications/pdfs/elibrary/Carnegie_Flexner_Report.pdf
- Knight, Victoria, “Once Banned, For-Profit Medical Schools Are On The Rise Again In The U.S.” npr.org, June 7, 2021, https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/06/07/1002477044/once-banned-for-profit-medical-schools-are-on-the-rise-again-in-the-u-s
- Bello, Jacqueline MD (Chair), “Report of the Council on Medical Education, Subject: For-Profit Medical Schools or Colleges” ama-assn.org, https://www.ama-assn.org/system/files/2020-04/cme-report-1-i19-annotated.pdf
- Hanson, Melanie. “Average Cost of Medical School” EducationData.org, October 11, 2021, https://educationdata.org/average-cost-of-medical-school
8 thoughts on “LCME Denies Full Accreditation for CNUCOM”
Thank you for the article. There is a large inaccuracy in your article, however. You mention that CNUCOM has become non-profit, but the article you cited only states that the proposed hospital will be a non-profit institution. I cannot find any evidence to demonstrate that the medical school, CNUCOM, is non-profit. This article (https://www.bizjournals.com/sacramento/news/2019/11/19/california-northstate-ceo-weighs-in-on-why-elk.html) in fact has the CEO stating that if the hospital were to go nonprofit, the school would remain FOR-PROFIT.
Thank you for your comment. We’ve clarified the paragraph.
How does it impact current students in medical school? Or who are joining residency? Will they be able to obtain license?
Those are good questions.
Students who have already graduated and moved onto residency are covered under the provisional accreditation status. Current students are in an unenviable situation, as they would likely be required to start over at a new school should the LCME choose to revoke the provisional status before they are able to complete their education.
i understand current students would need to start over at an accredited medical school but would they be guaranteed a spot at a us medical school ( if yes which medical schools have agreed to take students ) or would they have to start over and re-apply ( and risk not being accepted ) .
It is not clear. Transfers between medical schools tend to be challenging. They might have to start over and re-apply.
It is my understanding that no Med School has ever lost its accreditation after probation. However, CNUCOM has never achieved full accreditation. Have other schools not been able to achieve full accreditation and had their provisional revoked before?
How likely is that scenario?
As far as I am aware, this is uncharted accreditation territory. Other schools have been put on probation, but that was a failure in a re-accreditation attempt.