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Saint James School of Medicine Will Continue Providing High-Quality Medical Education, Commits to Industry Leadership for Transparency

 

Kaushik Guha, Executive Vice President of Human Resources Development Services (HRDS), issued the following statement regarding the announcement made by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of their settlement agreement with HRDS. HRDS is the parent of Saint James School of Medicine, an accredited Caribbean-based medical school that offers aspiring physicians from non-traditional backgrounds the opportunity to pursue a medical degree and practice in the U.S. or Canada.

 

“We have chosen to settle with the FTC over its allegations that disclosures on our website and in Delta’s loan agreements were insufficient. While we strongly disagree with the FTC’s approach to this matter, we did not want a lengthy legal process to distract from our mission of providing a quality medical education at an affordable cost.  However, we have added additional language and clarifications any time the USMLE pass rate and placement rates are mentioned.  We are committed to being an industry leader for transparency and accountability and hope that our efforts will lead to lasting change throughout the for-profit education industry.

Saint James School of Medicine will continue to provide a high-quality medical education at a tremendous value, opening the door to a medical career to students who would otherwise find it impossible to become a doctor. Over 600 of our alumni are serving as licensed physicians in communities across the United States and Canada, many of whom are working to bridge the health equity gap in underserved areas in North America.”

 

FAQS

 

What does it mean to settle with the FTC?

A settlement with the FTC means that the investigation is over and the loan forgiveness process will proceed. The settlement included a $850,000 monetary payment and an additional $357,457 in loan forgiveness to certain students.

 

The FTC is saying that Saint James School lied about our USMLE pass rates and residency match rates. Is this true?

  • No, we strongly dispute the FTC’s position.
  • Our marketing materials accurately stated a 94% USMLE Step 1 pass rate.  This figure represented the 2019 first-time pass rate for SJSM-Anguilla students who cleared the NBME requirement, which is consistent with how other medical schools track and report their USMLE pass rate. See excerpt from 2019 Aggregate Report from ECFMG:

Prior to 2020, USMLE pass rates were reported to all schools directly from the ECFMG; it was not a rate calculated in-house.  Since 2020, ECFMG has stopped reporting this rate to international schools, but we kept the same calculation methodology and formulas.

  • Our overall residency attainment rate is over 75%. We calculate this by taking the number of total graduates who have been placed into a residency program over the total number of graduates. Please visit www.sjsm.org/residency-data for the most recent info about residency.
  • We have updated relevant marketing materials and financial disclosure agreements to  increase transparency and compliance with relevant rules.
  • We will disclose the formulas we use to determine pass and placement rates and will encourage other Caribbean medical schools to use the same formulas and disclose them as well.
  • We aim to be an industry leader on this front, with the hope that our efforts will incentivize change throughout the for-profit education sector.

 

 

How will this impact students’ scholarships/financial aid?

This will not impact the financial viability of SJSM, and financial aid agreements will remain unchanged. Because of the allegations regarding Delta’s credit agreement disclosures, some students might be eligible for partial loan forgiveness. Forgiveness distributions are at the discretion of the FTC, but we will keep you updated as we learn more about their process and timeline.

 

How will this impact student’s ability to match into a residency program?

We do not foresee the settlement impacting student’s abilities to match into a residency program. At no point in this process did the FTC question our value as an educational institution or the quality of the education we offer. This settlement will not impede us now, nor in the future, from continuing to offer a high-quality, comprehensive medical education to our students.

 

What do you think are the near and long-term reputational impacts to Saint James School of Medicine because of this settlement?

The FTC’s allegations are related to our marketing materials and our credit companies’ disclosure practices. We do not anticipate there being any reputational harm to the institution. It is important to note that the FTC has put several other Caribbean medical schools (List of Schools) on notice as part of a broader investigation of for-profit educational institutions, including several large Caribbean medical schools (Ftc.gov)  We are committed to setting the standard for transparency in our marketing materials. We will disclose the formulas we use to determine pass and placement rates and will encourage other Caribbean medical schools to use the same formulas and disclose them as well.

 

Are the allegations against Saint James School of Medicine justified? 

We strongly disagree with the allegations made by the FTC, but we are using this opportunity to better our processes and communications.

 

What is Saint James School of Medicine doing to avoid accusations like this in the future?

We have already made changes to our promotional materials to augment our compliance with FTC standards and regulations.

 

While much of the industry uses similar formulas to calculate pass and match rates, we have added additional clarification and explanations regarding how these percentages are calculated, so as to dispel any confusion. An example of one of the recent updates is the launch of the new interactive residency data page (sjsm.org/residency-data). We aim to be an industry leader on this front, with the hope that our efforts will incentivize change throughout the for-profit education sector.

 

Will the investigation impact SJSM’s accreditation?

We do not anticipate that this will affect our accreditation status since the issues that the FTC highlighted were administrative in nature dealing with finance and marketing. We are confident in the quality of the program and have a track record that speaks for itself for over two decades. We have been in communication with our accreditors and all site visits are going to be conducted as planned.

 

Will this impact my routine or resources as a Saint James School of Medicine student?

No, this settlement will not impact anyone’s educational routines or the resources across our sites. Students will maintain their normal schedules, and this will not have any impact on graduation timelines.

 


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