To ensure that physicians-in-training around the world get the education they need to provide the best care for patients, the World Medical Association is calling on national medical associations to encourage medical schools to develop quality assurance programs and support accreditation systems that set medical education standards that align with the needs of patients.

The WMA policy says “well-planned and well-executed quality assurance programs are essential to guarantee that medical schools meet the necessary goals for preparing practitioners for a medical career.” That includes using the latest scientific knowledge to promote health, imparting ethical standards for physicians and preventing and curing diseases.

The policy, known as the Declaration of Chicago, was developed in partnership with the AMA and adopted at the WMA’s annual General Assembly meeting held in the Windy City recently. It comes at a time when the number of medical schools is increasing rapidly across the globe and medical technology is changing at a rapid pace.

“We see a tremendous need at home and around the world to ensure that your doctors are graduating medical school with the right education and the right training to thrive in health care today and far into the future,” AMA Executive Vice President  and CEO James L. Madara, MD, told delegates at the WMA conference.

The declaration’s recommendations lay the groundwork for each country to provide the highest quality undergraduate medical education, graduate medical education and continuing professional development for their physicians and physicians-in-training. In addition to calling for accreditation/recognition systems, the policy recommends that:

  • Adequate funding, infrastructure and staffing is put in place for accreditation systems and nationally-relevant standards are applied consistently when reviewing medical schools.
  • Every medical school in a given country participate in the national accreditation system.
  • External reviews of the accreditation system’s policies, practices and standards take place. For example, this could be accomplished by seeking recognition from the World Federation for Medical Education.
  • Physicians be encouraged to lead and actively participate in national accreditation activities as evaluators and decision makers. Physicians should also participate in quality assurance activities at their own medical schools.

The declaration is aligned with the AMA’s Accelerating Change in Medical Education initiative, an effort to create the medical school of the future that prepares physicians to practice in the realities of modern health care environment. For example, the recommendations encourage medical schools worldwide to enhance faculty, teacher and researcher skills to improve physician training. This transformation is already taking place in curricula at medical schools across the United States as part of the AMA’s effort.

Dr. Madara noted in his WMA speech that improving medical education has been one of the AMA’s core priorities for the past four years and that the movement grew out of comments from health-system leaders that medical students were graduating unprepared to work in modern health care settings.

For example, medical school graduates were not prepared to work in teams and did not know how to effectively use data to improve health care delivery, Dr. Madara told the audience. The Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium now includes 32 medical schools and reaches more than 19,000 medical students, about one-fifth of all medical students in the U.S.

“We set out to create new ways of working together, new approaches for learning, to cover new topics, to rethink the relationship of student to educator, education system to health system, “ Dr. Madara said. “We—and our tremendous consortium—have done all of this and will do much more in the years ahead.”

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