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The process of medical education and surgical training in the United States is overseen by an interconnected group of organizations. Each of these organizations has a specific focus; however, their common theme is continuous process improvement encouraged by intermittent external review (Table 2–1). Their ultimate goal is to provide a consistent, qualified, and professional workforce for medical care in the United States.

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Table 2–1. US Organizations with Medical Education Oversight. 
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Medical Student Education

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The Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) provides accreditation for medical schools in the United States and Canada. Accreditation is the process of quality assurance in postsecondary education that assesses whether an institution meets established standards. Accreditation by the LCME is effectively necessary for schools to function in the United States. Without accreditation, the schools cannot receive federal grants for medical education or participate in federal loan programs. Graduation from an LCME-accredited school enables students to sit for medical licensing examinations (the USMLE) and to achieve licensure in most US states. Graduation from an LCME-accredited medical school is also necessary for acceptance into an Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)–accredited residency program for graduates of US medical schools. The authority for the LCME to provide this accreditation is delegated by the US Department of Education in the United States and the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools (CACMS) in Canada.

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Each accredited medical school is reviewed annually for appropriateness of its function, structure, and performance. Formal site visits are conducted periodically with more in-depth review and reaccreditation at that time. The usual period of full accreditation is 8 years. At the time of this in-depth accreditation visit, and in the intervals between, the LCME works to disseminate best practices and approve the overall quality of education leading to the MD degree.

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Graduate Medical Education

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The ACGME is responsible for the accreditation of post-MD medical training programs within the United States. Accreditation is accomplished through a peer review process based on established standards and guidelines. The member organizations of the ACGME as an accrediting group are the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), the American Hospital Association (AHA), the American Medical Association (AMA), the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), and the Council of Medical Specialty Societies. The ACGME oversees a ...

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