Marta van Zanten Earns Ph.D. and Examines the Value of Medical School Accreditation

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FAIMER Research Scientist Marta van Zanten graduated in May 2012 from the College of Health Professions and Social Work at Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in Public Health. The title of her dissertation was “The Association between Medical Education Accreditation and the Examination Performance of Internationally Educated Physicians Seeking Certification in the United States.” Dr. van Zanten investigated the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) first-attempt pass rates of all international medical graduates (IMGs) who took one or more examinations leading to ECFMG Certification from 2006-2010 based on the IMG’s medical school accreditation status. Results showed that overall, IMGs who attended an accredited medical school performed better on examinations compared to their peers from non-accredited schools. Accreditation had the strongest association with USMLE performance for IMGs who attended medical schools located in the Caribbean.

In the second phase of this study, the quality of a select group of accrediting agencies was evaluated according to criteria determined by a panel of experts to be the most salient features of an accreditation system. IMGs who attended medical schools with overall higher quality accreditation systems performed better on two of three USMLE examinations. Specific accreditation criteria were associated with better performance on all three examinations. This study lends some support to the value of accreditation globally by linking these systems to improved student outcomes.