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International Medical Education Programs

FAIMER strives to better understand international medical education through its study of the educational experiences of medical school students and physician trainees around the world and how these experiences vary. To further this research, FAIMER collects descriptive and curricular information from medical schools throughout the world. In addition, surveys are mailed periodically to ministries of health and education and to medical councils to validate the information gathered from these medical schools. The information gathered from this research is used to update the World Directory of Medical Schools. The countries with the most operational medical schools listed in the World Directory are shown in the graph below.

Countries with the Most Operational Medical Schools Listed in the World Directory

Physician Migration
Data current as of June 1, 2016.
World Directory of Medical Schools

In addition to collecting information used to validate the recognition of international medical schools, survey respondents are asked to report on admission requirements, accreditation processes, and medical licensure criteria. The results of these surveys are used to further refine instruments for the collection of data on international medical education institutions and accreditation bodies, including the standards used to approve medical programs and the criteria employed to certify and license physicians. These data are used on an ongoing basis to update and expand FAIMER’s Directory of Organizations that Recognize/Accredit Medical Schools (DORA).

FAIMER collaborates with the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG®) on a program through which international medical schools are provided with aggregate data on the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) performance of their students/graduates in exchange for information on the schools’ curricula, student application requirements, enrollment, and clinical training practices. This exchange of information will provide a more detailed picture of international medical schools and their graduates, allowing FAIMER to expand its data resources and further its research on international medical education programs.

Cooperation and resource sharing with international organizations that have goals in common with FAIMER also contribute to FAIMER’s research on international medical education. In 2014, FAIMER and the World Federation for Medical Education (WFME) launched the World Directory of Medical Schools. The World Directory is the result of an agreement to merge the organizations’ respective directories—FAIMER’s International Medical Education Directory (IMED) and WFME’s Avicenna Directory—to produce a single comprehensive resource on undergraduate medical education worldwide. FAIMER also works with the European Medical Association (EMA) in the collection and dissemination of information on postgraduate medical training programs throughout the world. These international collaborations are instrumental for the development of high-quality data resources and the advancement of research in international medical education.

Selected FAIMER staff publications on this topic are listed below. FAIMER staff members are listed in bold. Click on an article’s title to view its abstract listing in the PubMed database.

Duvivier RJ, Boulet JR, Opalek A, van Zanten M, Norcini J. Overview of the world’s medical schools: an update. Medical Education. 2014;48(9):860-869.

Norcini JJ, Banda SS. Increasing the quality and capacity of education: the challenge for the 21st century. Medical Education. 2011;45(1):81-86.

van Zanten M, Norcini JJ, Boulet JR, Simon F. Overview of accreditation of undergraduate medical education programmes worldwide. Medical Education. 2008;42(9):930-937.

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[last update: June 1, 2016]