Most of the countries across the globe often see their medical school applications go beyond the slots they have available. For instance, there are over 50,000 applicants for medical schools in the US each year, but only around 20,000 seats are available across the country.

This is why many students seek out medical schools abroad where they can complete their studies from. However, one of the key elements in choosing these medical schools is whether they are accredited or not. So, what exactly does accreditation mean and why is it so important? Let’s find out.

Meaning of Accreditation for Medical Schools

An accredited medical school basically means that the school meets all the criteria defined by a body of authority like the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). LCME is the accreditation medical authority in the USA and Canada that provides their students with MD (Doctor of Medicine) degrees.

Accreditation for medical schools also means that the faculty, resources, curriculum, and all other relevant elements of that school meet a certain set of qualifications that have been approved by the accrediting body. This body can be appointed by the host country of the medical school, or the other countries where the students might want to pursue a career after graduating from the medical school. 

One thing to note here is that not all the accrediting bodies are equal. For instance, the standards set by the United States Department of Education’s National Committee on Foreign Medical Education Accreditation (NCFMEA) are quite rigorous compared to other bodies. The NCFMEA conducted comprehensive research and determined 20 accrediting bodies for medical schools that qualify to have accreditation criteria to competently match with the medical institutions in the US and Canada. 

Hence, if a medical school has been accredited by any of the bodies listed in the NCFMEA list, the students can be assured that the medical school matches those standards.

How to Check Claims of Accreditation by Medical Schools?

The websites of medical schools usually have all the relevant accreditation information. But how can you, as a website visitor, verify these details? There are a few ways.

The NCFMEA is the most well-respected group that vets the accrediting bodies for medical schools. There are many organizations you can find which accredit medical schools, but a student should always begin by checking the accrediting bodies listed on the medical school website to ascertain whether they are present on the NCFMEA’s website.

Another hurdle to pass here is that many medical schools’ websites list that they are accredited by the WHO. Remember that the WHO is not an accrediting body; it only lists medical schools in countries by the government’s request, and publishes it on the AVICENNA Directory of Medical Schools with the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. Therefore, WHO does not have any authority to accredit any medical programs or schools. Similarly, Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education and Research (FAIMER) and Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) are also not accrediting bodies. They do promote excellence in medical education, but don’t have any accrediting authority or recognition.

Why Accreditation Matters for Medical Schools

Suppose a student attends an accredited school from the relevant bodies of authority. In that case, it means that their education will be recognized and meet the required standards for the country they want to pursue a career in. It can also improve the chances for the student to get residency training slots in the country. Moreover, getting an education from a medical school accredited by a body recognised by the NCFMEA can help you in getting your application for a medical license evaluated by the state medical boards in the US and Canada.