Loma Linda Medical School Aids “Orphaned”
Puerto Rico School’s Students

Eleven join student body; LLU has tradition of helping stranded scholars

BY HERBERT ATIENZA, Loma Linda University
leven medical students from Puerto Rico were welcomed to Loma Linda University School of Medicine (LLUSM) November 2, 2011, following the closure of their former school.

The students—two seniors and nine juniors—were among the 275 students, some from California, of San Juan Bautista School of Medicine  in Caguas, Puerto Rico, U.S., who were unable to continue their education after the school lost its accreditation in early October. The selected transfer students will resume their education at LLUSM and plan to graduate with the classes of 2012 and 2013, respectively.

“It has been a blessing being here,” said Angie Lastra, 25, a senior, from Carolina, Puerto Rico. “We felt like it was the end of the world when our school closed, but now we are glad to be here. We are eternally grateful.”

LOMA LINDA WELCOME: Dr. Roger Hadley, dean of the Loma Linda University School of Medicine (standing), welcomes the transfer students from Puerto Rico shortly after their arrival on campus. [PHOTO: LLU]
On October 3, the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the accrediting body for medical schools in Canada and the United States, including Puerto Rico, issued a statement declaring that it had “withdrawn accreditation from the educational program leading to the M.D. degree at the San Juan Bautista School of Medicine.” The decision, it stated, was based primarily on inadequate clinical resources (www.lcme.org).

The displaced students made a plea to the Association of American Medical Colleges, which then sent a call out to 134 other accredited medical schools to consider applications from students seeking transfer.

The LLUSM Advisory Council, led by Dr. Roger Hadley, dean of the School of Medicine, determined that the school had capacity to accommodate a number of the students seeking transfer, and was among the first medical schools to offer help. After a team of LLUSM faculty members flew to Puerto Rico to conduct personal interviews with the students, a special admissions committee meeting was held to determine those students who might be the best match for LLUSM’s program.

“The story of the good Samaritan tells us that when one sees a person in need, we should stop, help, and find a place for them to stay,” Dr. Hadley said.

LLUSM has, in the past, assimilated a number of students from other medical schools upon their closure: the University of Southern California in 1920 and Oral Roberts University in 1989.

Since opening in 1909, LLU’s School of Medicine has been training skilled medical professionals with a commitment to Christian service. With 683 enrolled students and more than 10,000 graduates, the school is a national leader in educating future doctors.

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