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LCME® Functions and Structure of a Medical School Standards for Accreditation of Medical Education Programs Leading to the MD Degree

Accreditation is a voluntary, peer-review process designed to attest to the educational quality of new and established educational programs. The Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) accredits complete and independent medical education programs leading to the MD degree in the United States in which medical students are geographically located in the United States for their education and which are operated by universities or medical schools chartered in the United States. By judging the compliance of medical education programs with nationally accepted standards of educational quality, the LCME serves the interests of the general public and of the medical students enrolled in those programs.

To achieve and maintain accreditation, a medical education program leading to the MD degree in the U.S. must demonstrate appropriate performance in the standards and elements contained in this document. The accreditation process requires a medical education program to provide assurances that its graduates exhibit general professional competencies that are appropriate for entry to the next stage of their training and that serve as the foundation for lifelong learning and proficient medical care. While recognizing the existence and appropriateness of diverse institutional missions and educational objectives, local circumstances do not justify accreditation of a substandard program of medical education leading to the MD degree.

The LCME regularly reviews the content of the standards and elements, and seeks feedback on their validity, importance, and clarity from members of the medical education community, including the LCME’s sponsoring organizations. Changes to existing standards and elements that impose new or additional compliance requirements are reviewed by LCME’s stakeholders and are considered at a public hearing before being adopted. Once approved, new or revised standards are published in the Functions and Structure of a Medical School and in the relevant version of the Data Collection Instrument (DCI), which will indicate when the changes become effective. Such periodic review may result in the creation or elimination of a specific standard and/or element, or a substantial reorganization of the Functions and Structure of a Medical School. It is important, therefore, that school personnel consult the version of these documents specific to the year in which a review (e.g., survey visit, status report) of the medical education program will occur.

The Functions and Structure of a Medical School is organized according to 12 accreditation standards, each with an accompanying set of elements. The language of each of the 12 LCME accreditation standards is a concise statement of the expectations of that standard. The elements within a standard specify the components that collectively constitute the standard; they are statements that identify the variables that need to be examined in evaluating a medical education program’s compliance with the standard. The LCME will consider performance in all the elements associated with a specific standard in the determination of the program’s compliance with that standard.

The Glossary of Terms for LCME Accreditation Standards and Elements has been incorporated into the Functions and Structure of a Medical School for the reader’s convenience. The glossary provides the LCME’s definitions of terms used in the Functions and Structure of a Medical School.

As you read this document, please note that the 12 standards are organized to flow from the level of the institution to the level of the student.


© Copyright March 2022, Association of American Medical Colleges and American Medical Association. All material subject to this copyright may be photocopied for the noncommercial purpose of scientific or educational advancement, with citation.

LCME® is a registered trademark of the Association of American Medical Colleges and the American Medical Association.