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George Washington University Medical School


George Washington University Medical School

George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences
Motto Seek Truth and Pursue It Steadily
Established 1824
Type Private
Endowment US $1.507 billion [1]
Provost Steven Lerman
Dean Jeffrey S. Akman (acting)
Academic staff 677 (Full-Time)
Students 712
Location Washington, District of Columbia, USA
Campus Urban
Website [5]

The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences ('GW SMHS for short) was established in 1824, due to the need for doctors in the District of Columbia (DC). The school formally opened its doors a year later in 1825. It is the eleventh oldest medical school in the United States and the first medical school established in the nation's capital. The school has more than 700 medical students currently enrolled in its Doctor of Medicine (MD) program.[2] Over the past few years, GW has seen a dramatic rise in the number of applications it receives. For the past six years, it has been the most applied to medical school in the country, receiving 14,649 applications in 2012.[3]

The George Washington University School of Medicine is at the forefront of technology for research and application. GW's innovations include the six-million volt linear accelerator, a radioisotope laboratory, and the first operating theaters with overhead observation decks, among others. Political figures, such as former Vice President Dick Cheney and former First Lady Laura Bush, also come to GW for routine and emergency procedures.[4]

Four out of every ten students holds an undergraduate degrees in the arts, humanities, or social sciences. A unique aspect of the school is the Practice of Medicine (POM) course that spans the entire length of a medical student's education. GW was one of the first in the country to place students in clinical settings from the start of their medical school experience.[5]

The school was in the national spotlight in 1981 when US President Ronald Reagan, shot at close range, was rushed to its ER for surgery.


Admission to the School of Medicine and Health Sciences is the most competitive of the George Washington University's graduate programs. The School of Medicine has the lowest admissions rate in the United States (2.1% during 2012 admission cycle) according to US News and World Report.[6] For the MD class entering in 2012, a little more than 1,000 applicants were interviewed out of a total number of 14,700 applicants. Approximately 300 individuals were accepted to fill 177 spots. Students had an average GPA of 3.71, and a mean MCAT score of 30.6 [7]

Tuition is $52,000 for the first year class while the total cost of attendance is roughly $70,000 a year. Despite high costs, GW provides only moderate financial aid or merit based scholarship.

International Medicine Program

GW is famous for providing leading US medical school education to international students. The International MD Program was developed by the Office of International Medicine Programs at GW in response to the great demand for US-educated physicians abroad. Differences in educational/teaching styles, language, and culture may present further obstacles to international students who apply to American programs. The International MD Program is designed to facilitate international students who wish to practice medicine, and to further GW's mission to improve the health and well-being of communities beyond its locale by promoting the exchange of knowledge across cultures.[8]

Residency training for graduates of non-US medical schools and colleges is also provided by GW SMHS.

LCME Accreditation Probation

In 2008 the LCME or Liaison Committee on Medical Education put the George Washington University Medical School on accreditation probation, citing a number of issues. While declining to publish the entire list, among the problems acknowledged by GW were its outdated system of managing its curriculum, the curriculum itself, high levels of student debt, student mistreatment, and inadequate study and lounge space for its students. Significantly, in 2008 GWU was the only medical school (among 129 LCME accredited institutions) to be placed on probation and the first such in 15 years.[9]

A Washington Post article [10] uncovered other, much more serious, problems. These included conflicts of interest potentially subordinating the medical school as a teaching institution to the economic interests of Universal Health Services, the for-profit corporation that owns and operates GW's teaching hospital.[11] One potential example is deficient-implementation of new ACGME medical resident work hours rules, which cost a typical teaching hospital $3.2 million annually.[12]

The Post article quotes US Senator Charles Grassley (R - Iowa), who has made a significant effort to address conflicts of interest in academic medicine and health care: 'It's surprising that this relationship went on for many years, Officials at nonprofit agencies are responsible for ensuring that their assets are used for the public good, while company leaders must maximize profit, he said. 'It would be very hard for one person to wear both hats and fairly serve both interests.'

GW implemented a plan to rectify these problems. Its probationary status was lifted in February 2010.[13] Subsequently, the two top GWU medical school administrators were forced to resign over the alleged conflicts of interest.[14]

However, as of twenty months later, the search for a new dean of medicine was stalled.[15] Further, according to a commentator, the teaching-hospital-related problems that led to probation and the original dean's firing were not resolved. In January, 2013, the university appointed the acting Dean of Medicine, Dr Jeffry Akman, as permanent dean. According to an article [16] in The Hatchet, " Provost Steven Lerman declined to say if a committee in the medical school considered any other candidates during the accelerated search."

With respect to putative LCME allegations of trainee abuse, the District of Columbia Department of Human Rights subsequently ruled that a medical student was unfairly expelled in direct retaliation for lodging an internal complaint about a GW faculty member.[17] This civil case is still pending, as is another case claiming illegal billing of medicare for work done by residents and nurse anesthesists.[18]

Hospital and Practice Plan Relationships

In the 1990s economic pressures caused GW to sell an 80% interest in its teaching hospital to Universal Health Services, who rationalized the hospital and its medical services along more profit-oriented lines. The school similarly initiated a reorganization aimed at improving the profitability of its various clinical departments, effectively setting them up as independent "fiefdoms" responsible for their own budgets with minimal support from the school itself.[19]

Medical Training Programs

Locations of the Medical School

The original location of the Medical School, established as a department of Columbian College in 1824, was at Judiciary Square. It then moved to the northeast corner of 10th & E streets NW and later in the 19th century, to the 1300 block of H Street NW. The Medical School moved in 1973 to its current location at Washington Circle in Foggy Bottom.


Note: The years listed above refer to the years the individuals became the deans of the medical school, not their length of total service at the School

Other Programs

Other programs include clinical laboratory sciences and administration training. The school also offers a nurse practitioner program and a physician assistant program. The school offers many Early Selection options through participating universities, as well as a 7-year accelerated program.

Notable Individuals



  • James Carroll (Identified germs as the cause of diseases and changed the course of medicine, worked with Dr. Theobald Smith)
  • Thomas Henderson
  • Peter Hotez (Distinguished Research Professor and Professor of Microbiology, Immunology, and Tropical Medicine at The George Washington University School of Medicine, and Principal Scientist and Founding Director of the Human Hookworm Vaccine Initiative)
  • Albert Freeman Africanus King (Famous for Manual of Obstetrics that became the national standard)
  • Ferid Murad {Discovered the role of nitric oxide in the cardiovascular system, winner of 1998 Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology}
  • Walter Reed (Army Major who identified that yellow fever was transmitted by mosquitoes rather than direct contact with an infected patient)
  • Frederick Russell (Introduced typhoid vaccine into the army)
  • James Staughton (Professor of Surgery)
  • Thomas Sewall (Professor of Anatomy)
  • Theobald Smith (Identified germs as the cause of diseases and changed the course of medicine, worked with Dr. James Carroll)
  • Nicholas Williams Worthington (Professor of Materia Medica)
  • Vincent du Vigneaud (1955 Nobel laureate in Chemistry, Head of the Biochemistry Department at the George Washington University School of Medicine)


Coordinates: 38°54′03″N 77°03′03″W / 38.9007°N 77.0508°W / 38.9007; -77.0508

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