Frequently Asked Questions
Who accredits medical schools? What standards are used to accredit schools?
In the United States, the accreditation status of programs leading to the M.D. degree is determined solely by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). In cooperation with the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools (CACMS) , the LCME also accredits M.D. programs in Canada. To be accredited, programs must meet the national standards described in the document, Functions and Structure of a Medical School.
Why are there two LCME offices? Which one should I contact?
The LCME is jointly sponsored by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the Council on Medical Education of the American Medical Association (AMA). The AAMC and the AMA each appoint an LCME Co-Secretary (known jointly as the Secretariat) and maintain accreditation offices in Washington, D.C. and Chicago, respectively. For more information on the LCME Secretariat please visit the Contacts page.
Is a list of LCME-accredited schools available to the public?
Yes, a current listing of LCME-accredited programs in the U.S. and LCME/CACMS-accredited programs in Canada is available in the Medical School Directory. Additionally, lists of accredited schools in the U.S. and Canada are published each fall in the Medical Education Issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
Where can I find information about LCME requirements for new or proposed medical schools?
The document, LCME Accreditation Guidelines for New and Developing Medical Schools describes the minimum requirements for consideration by the LCME in order to meet the five steps of accreditation leading to full accreditation. A listing of pre-accredited programs is available to the public. Interested parties are strongly encouraged to contact the LCME Secretariat for more detailed information.
Am I eligible to take the USMLE exams if I attend a school with provisional or preliminary accreditation?
Eligibility of U.S. students to take the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) requires LCME accreditation of their school. Graduates of LCME-accredited schools, including those with full, provisional, or preliminary accreditation, are eligible for residency programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).
Why is accreditation important?
Accreditation signifies that national standards for structure, function, and performance are met by a medical school's education program leading to the M.D. degree. LCME accreditation establishes eligibility for selected federal grants and programs, including Title VII funding administered by the Public Health Service. Students and graduates of LCME-accredited medical schools are eligible to take the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). These graduates also have eligibility to enter residencies approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). Graduating from an LCME-accredited U.S. school and passing the national licensing examinations are accepted as prerequisites for medical licensure in most states.
Does the LCME accredit international medical schools? If not, who does?
The LCME's scope is limited to the accreditation of complete and independent medical education programs where students are geographically located in the United States or Canada for their education and that are operated by universities or medical schools that are chartered in the United States or Canada. There is no single authority accrediting medical education programs internationally. Some countries have their own processes for educational quality assurance or accreditation, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Mexico, and others.
For more information, consult the Foundation for the Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER).
Does the LCME accredit osteopathic medical schools?
No. Osteopathic medical schools are accredited by the American Osteopathic Association.
Does the LCME rank medical schools according to quality?
Medical schools are not ranked by the LCME, which evaluates educational programs according to standards for organization, function, and performance, but does not attempt to stratify institutions according to their characteristics. Medical schools differ greatly: whether they are private or state-supported, free-standing, or part of a parent university. They differ in their dependence on state appropriations, tuition, and income from clinical services and research; their relative emphasis on teaching, research, and medical practice; the size of their faculties and enrollments; the scope of their research and production of future scientists and teachers; and their emphasis on primary care and the training of future community physicians. While the quality of education is partly determined by the organization of programs and adequacy of resources, it also depends on the dedication of the faculty to teaching and to creating an environment conducive to learning. These and other important attributes may be obscured by efforts to rank schools by such variables as their size and the reputation of the faculty, level of research funding, or clinical facilities.
How can I register a complaint about a medical school to the LCME?
Please see the Complaints and Third-party comment section of the Contacts page.
What does accreditation cost? How is the LCME funded?
The LCME does not collect dues or charge fees for accreditation services, except for schools requesting initial, provisional accreditation. The operating funds for the LCME are allocated by the AAMC and AMA sponsors from their dues and other income. Costs related to accreditation are equally split between the AAMC and AMA Secretariats of the LCME.
Questions Addressing LCME Pre-survey Preparation
When is my medical school due for its next full LCME accreditation survey?
Refer to the Medical School Directory which lists the academic year of the next survey for each U.S. and Canadian medical school.
When will our school receive materials and instructions for preparing the medical education database and conducting the institutional self-study in preparation for our next LCME accreditation survey?
Pre-survey materials, database materials and instructions for completion, copies of LCME standards and rules of procedure, and guidebooks about the self-study, the role of students, and preparation of the survey report are shipped to medical school deans approximately 18 months prior to the scheduled date of the next full accreditation survey.
What is a Faculty Fellow?
The goal of the Faculty Fellow program is to provide schools preparing for an upcoming survey visit with first-hand insight into the accreditation process by allowing a lead faculty member to serve as a fully-participating team member on a different institution's full survey visit. Faculty Fellows are typically assistant or associate deans, department chairs, or senior faculty members who will take a lead role in their program's upcoming survey visit. Deans typically nominate the individual designated as the faculty accreditation lead.
Faculty Fellow nominees should be experienced medical school administrators or faculty members who have not previously participated in an LCME accreditation survey.
Faculty Fellows receive training at the LCME-hosted surveyor workshop typically held during the AAMC Annual Meeting in November. In addition, Fellows are mentored by other members of their assigned survey team during the survey visit. After participating on their first survey visit, Fellows are eligible to serve on future survey teams.
The medical school nominating the Faculty Fellow is responsible for the travel and lodging expenses associated with the survey visit. The Faculty Fellow program is limited to schools with upcoming accreditation surveys and schools may nominate only one Fellow.
Now that our school's survey visit date has been set, when will we receive information about developing the visit schedule, hotel arrangements, and visit logistics? Who will serve on the survey team visiting my school?
SurveyConnect presents a step-by-step view of a survey visit from the perspective of both the school and the survey team, featuring a detailed survey visit preparation timeline and glossary of LCME terms. In addition, the LCME Secretariat will send the dean a package of information approximately three months prior to the survey visit, including the list of team members scheduled for the visit.
Whom can I contact with questions about completing the medical education database?
Questions regarding the submission of accreditation materials should be directed to LCME administrative staff via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Questions regarding the completion of the DCI (medical education database) should be directed to the LCME Secretariat via e-mail at email@example.com.
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What are some sources for further information on the following subjects?
Residency programs/graduate medical education: Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)
Certification of foreign medical graduates: Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG)
Medical licensure for each state: Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB)
Administration of USMLE Steps 1, 2, and 3: National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME)
International medical schools (outside U.S. and Canada): World Health Organization (World Health Organization)
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