10/16/2015 04:57 EDT | Updated 10/16/2016 05:12 EDT

University Of Saskatchewan's College Of Medicine No Longer Under Probation

At the time, student performance in national exams was at the bottom of all Canadian medical schools.

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University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon

SASKATOON — The University of Saskatchewan says its College of Medicine is no longer under probation for some weak and deficient standards.

"This is fabulous news,'' Dr. Preston Smith, dean of the College of Medicine, said Friday in an interview. "We are very, very pleased.''

The Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools placed the college's undergraduate medical education program on probation in October 2013. The college was not keeping up with its peers on 13 of 132 standards.

At the time, student performance in national exams was at the bottom of all Canadian medical schools.

The college, Saskatchewan's only medical school, remained fully accredited as it worked to deal with problems that included leadership, governance and funding shortcomings.

Smith was appointed as dean of the college in December 2013.

A vice-dean of education has been hired since then, Smith said, and a vice-dean of research is expected to be on the job in a few months.

Smith said the Saskatchewan government has also increased spending to help bolster the undergraduate program, including hiring more physicians to teach courses.

The changes have yielded positive results, he said.

"In the last year our test scores have actually gone up.''

The probation order affected the college's reputation, a situation that could make students less competitive for residency programs, but that is no longer the case, Smith said.

"I think the school's reputation is only going to continue to improve,'' he said.

"We are moving from achieving accreditation to our next goal, which is excellence in medical education, more research and, most importantly, the kind of research that actually improves patient care here in Saskatchewan.''

The U.S. Liaison Committee on Medical Education was also involved in the decision to lift the probation order.

Along with the probation rescindment, the program's accreditation status has been extended until March 2018.

Smith said there is still more work to do. The college is already preparing for the next full accreditation visit, which is to take place in the fall of 2017.

"We won't be caught flat-footed when accreditation comes down again.''

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