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Citing Irregular Behavior, the ECFMG Sanctions the Montserrat Medical School USAT; The School Responds With a Lawsuit

Citing irregular behavior on the party of the Montserrat-based University of Science, Arts, and Technology  (USAT), the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) has imposed harsh sanctions upon the school. USAT has responded with a lawsuit.

A letter from ECFMG’s President Dr. William Pinsky to USAT President Dr. Orien Tulp explained the sanctions:

Dear Dr. Tulp:

I am writing to inform you that the ECFMG Medical Education Credentials Committee
(“ECFMG Committee”) has completed its review of the allegation that you, individually and in your capacity as an official of University of Science, Arts & Technology (USAT) Faculty of Medicine, Montserrat, engaged in irregular behavior in connection with providing false information to ECFMG. Specifically, you provided false information to ECFMG when you (1) notified ECFMG that USAT does not operate a branch campus in Miami, FL and (2) certified to the attendance dates of several USAT students and graduates when ECFMG has information that these students were not attending USAT during some of the time periods to which you certified…

The ECFMG Committee has determined that ECFMG will not accept any documents signed I certified by you for ECFMG on behalf of USAT, or any other medical school, for a minimum of five years from today; thereafter, the prohibition shall end only upon a petition to ECFMG conclusively demonstrating to the satisfaction of the ECFMG Committee a familiarity with, and willingness to adhere to, ECFMG polices. Your ECFMG Medical School Web Portal (EMSWP) account will remain deactivated.

The ECFMG Sponsor Notes on USAT now state:

As of January 1, 2019, students and graduates of this medical school with a graduation year of 2019 and later are not eligible to apply to ECFMG for ECFMG Certification, which also renders them ineligible to apply to ECFMG for the United States Medical Licensing Examinations (USMLE) as a step toward ECFMG Certification.

Currently, students and graduates of USAT are subject to enhanced procedures that must be met in order to be eligible to apply for ECFMG Certification related services, including but not limited to: ECFMG Certification, USMLE examinations that lead to ECFMG Certification, and Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS®) Support Services. ECFMG will provide information and instructions to applicants upon receipt of application.

During its investigation, the ECFMG determined that USAT was operating a medical school campus in Florida without having obtained the legal authorization to do from the State of Florida. USAT failed to provide any documentation and claimed that its Florida campus was merely a testing center to help USAT graduates prepare for examinations. However, ECFMG’s interviews with USAT students revealed that they had attended USAT medical classes in Florida. ECFMG’s VP for Operations Kara Corrado, JD noted in a letter to USAT’s counsel Tommy Swate (emphasis ours):

It appears from the information gathered from you (e.g. your statement that USAT has conducted classes “in locations other than Montserrat for 15 years without incident…”) and corroborated by USAT students that USAT has primarily operated and conducted its educational activities in the United States. Based on this information, USAT may not even be an international medical school. However, as previously communicated, if you are able to provide documentation from the appropriate United States authorities that USAT is authorized to operate its medical school branch campuses in the United States, ECFMG will consider this information.

Also, in your letter dated November 13, 2018 you state “ECFMG has taken the position that ECFMG has the right to accredit a medical school.” We must clarify for you that ECFMG is not an accrediting agency and does not purport to accredit international medical schools.

It appears from the ECFMG investigation that USAT was operating medical school campuses in Florida and Taxes while claiming to be being based in Montserrat. As ECFMG noted, USAT may not even be an international medical school. If so, then USAT has been operating as unaccredited US medical school. The facts will come out in discovery and trial.

USAT Files a Lawsuit Against the ECFMG

Dr. Orien Tulp and his wife Carla Konyk own the University of Science, Arts, and Technology  (USAT). As the owners, the couple filed a lawsuit against ECFMG. The action was filed on June 25, 2019 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The Case Number is 2:19-cv-02779-WB.

As argued by USAT in its complaint, the net effect of ECFMG’s sanctions is to effectively put USAT out of business. Please scroll down to read USAT’s complaint.

The Need for Tough US Medical Standards

Given the sanctions taken against USAT, the 2019 graduates of the school cannot gain the ECFMG certifications they need to become medical doctors in the U.S. How many years and how much money have these graduates spent only to learn of the ECFMG sanctions?

While USAT will have its day in court, we cite this case in order to urge any prospective student of a foreign medical school to conduct research and ask hard questions about the offshore schools they are considering for enrollment.

Not all foreign medical schools are created equally. This once again emphasizes the need for US States to require standard 3-5 medical residencies in order to bring FMG’s up to the gold standard of American medical care. The US medical system is so outstanding that many people from all over the world come to our shores to pay for and receive the best medical care possible.

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