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Overview: Accreditation and the LCME

Purpose and responsibility

Recognition as the accrediting authority

Appointment of LCME members

Confidentiality of accreditation information


Purpose and responsibility
Accreditation is a process of quality assurance in postsecondary education that determines whether an institution or program meets established standards for function, structure, and performance. The accreditation process also fosters institutional and program improvement. Medical education programs leading to the M.D. degree in the United States and Canada are accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). 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.

Accreditation by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) establishes eligibility for selected federal grants and programs, including Title VII funding administered by the Public Health Service. Most state boards of licensure require that U.S. medical schools be accredited by the LCME, as a condition for licensure of their graduates. 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 are eligible for residency programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). The Department of Education recognizes the LCME for the accreditation of programs of medical education leading to the M.D. degree in institutions that are themselves accredited by regional accrediting associations. Institutional accreditation assures that medical education takes place in a sufficiently rich environment to foster broad academic purposes.

Recognition of the LCME as the accreditation authority for M.D. programs
The U.S. Department of Education recognizes the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) for accreditation of programs of medical education leading to the M.D. degree in the United States. For Canadian medical education programs, the LCME engages in accreditation in collaboration with the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools (CACMS). The LCME is recognized as the reliable accreditation authority for M.D. programs by the nation's medical schools and their parent universities. It also is recognized for this purpose by the Congress in various health-related laws, and by state, provincial (Canada), and territorial medical licensing boards.

Appointment of LCME Members
The members of the LCME are medical educators and administrators, practicing physicians, public members, and medical students. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the Council on Medical Education of the American Medical Association (AMA) each appoint six professional members. The AAMC and AMA each appoint one student member. The LCME itself appoints two public members, and a member is appointed to represent the CACMS.

The LCME is represented by ad hoc teams of evaluators who conduct on-site surveys of medical schools. Survey team members are a mix of basic science and clinical educators and practitioners. Members of the LCME and surveyors conducting field evaluations serve as voluntary, peer evaluators. The activities of the LCME are administered by two Secretariats, at AMA headquarters in Chicago, IL, and at the offices of the AAMC in Washington, DC. Members of the LCME and its survey teams, excluding full and part-time staff, serve the LCME without compensation.

Each year, the LCME reviews annual survey data and written reports on all of the accredited U.S. and Canadian medical schools, and conducts site visits to 20-30 institutions. The LCME holds two-day meetings three times a year, usually in October, February, and June, and may convene as needed to deal with special issues.

Confidentiality of information related to accreditation
The LCME will disclose to the public only the accreditation status of the school. Following action by the LCME, a "Letter of Accreditation" transmitting the accreditation decision and a copy of the survey report are sent by the principal LCME Secretary to the president of the university (or the equivalent chief executive of the academic institution), with a copy to the dean of the medical school. The survey report and the letter transmitting the accreditation decision will be held confidential by the LCME. The final report may be disclosed by the medical school at its discretion.


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