The College of Medicine at the University of Arizona functioned with two separate tracks for five years before securing separate accreditation in Phoenix and admitting their first class into the College of Medicine – Phoenix in July of 2012. The Phoenix campus recognized a need for curriculum specific to the Phoenix community and the distributed model of the college. The separate accreditation allows the College of Medicine – Phoenix to provide a curriculum that best serves the students, faculty and community partners.
Accreditation signifies that national standards for structure, function, and performance are met by a medical school's education program leading to the MD degree. LCME accreditation establishes eligibility for selected federal grants and programs, including Title VII funding administered by the Public Health Service. Students and graduates of LCME-accredited medical schools are eligible to take the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). These graduates also have eligibility to enter residencies approved by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). Graduating from an LCME-accredited U.S. school and passing the national licensing examinations are accepted as prerequisites for medical licensure in most states.
Medical school accreditation is renewed every eight years through a process of data collection, self-reflection and occasional course correction known as a "full survey." The LCME Secretariat will contact the dean to establish visit dates. A core group of dean-appointed faculty and staff then begin the process by gathering institutional data and engaging key stakeholders from across the institution in a year-long self-assessment process. The self-study team develops a report on institutional strengths, challenges, and areas of potential risk, which will help focus the inquiry of the team that conducts a 3-4 day survey visit. Survey team findings are compiled into a detailed report, which forms the basis of the accreditation decision issued by the LCME.
The LCME accreditation will focus on five major areas of a medical school:
- Institutional setting
- Educational program
- Medical students
- Educational resources
Provisional accreditation is the second major milestone when applying for full accreditation with the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). First schools apply and receive accreditation with preliminary status to admit their first class of medical students. As the school is established and the curriculum is developed, the school prepares for accreditation, with provisional status during the second year of curriculum. Finally, the school prepares for full accreditation during the fourth year of the inaugural class.
After having been awarded provisional accreditation by the LCME, a medical education program may achieve full accreditation by the LCME when all of the following requirements have been met: 1) submission by the program of a full data collection instrument (DCI) and a Self-study summary to the LCME; 2) completion by an LCME survey team of a full accreditation survey visit late in the third year or early in the fourth year of the medical curriculum and preparation by the survey team of a report of its findings; 3) consideration by the LCME at its next scheduled meeting of the survey team report and a determination by the LCME that the program leading to the MD degree is in compliance with LCME accreditation standards; and 4) a vote by the LCME to grant full accreditation to the program for a five-year term.