ACGME-I partnerships set to align foreign GME programs with rigorous American model

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) is widening its domain, providing its evaluative services to not just graduate medical education programs in the U.S., but curricula from nations afar as well.

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“We are receiving requests from other parts of the world,” said ACGME CEO Thomas J. Nasca, MD, in the amednews report. “Our hope is to go into areas of great need such as Sub-Saharan Africa and Central America, where GME doesn’t exist at all.”

Horace Greeley’s words have been inverted and slapped onto the tail-end of the ACGME to create the ACGME-International (ACGME-I) bureau, which has gone east as a means to revamp GME accreditation systems around the world. Thus far, ACGME-I has settled the initial phase of partnership with the Ministry of Health in Singapore, and more contracts have been inked in Qatar (for two institutions) and Abu Dhabi (for six institutions) in the United Arab Emirates. Negotiations in Oman (for two teaching hospitals) are also said to be taking place, John Nylen, ACGME-I vice president and chief operating officer, told

“The idea is not just to take the U.S. model and imprint it on each country, but to work with the country and develop a model that is appropriate for that country and their patient population,” Nasca added. “When we bring these systems in, we immediately raise the level of the graduates, and we raise the standards of the educational program.”

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In 2009, the Ministry of Health in Singapore contacted ACGME in the hopes that the organization would enlist its services in helping the country shift from the British GME model to the American model. Citing the peer review system as the most rigorous in the world, Singapore officials were eager to make the change, Nasca noted.

“The goals of the process are to evaluate, improve and publicly recognize programs and sponsoring institutions in GME that are in substantial compliance with standards of educational quality established by ACGME-I,” said Ministry of Health spokeswoman Poon Jing Ting. “Accreditation was developed to benefit the public, protect the interests of residents, and improve the quality of teaching, learning, research and professional practice.”

Prior to the ACGME partnership, 50 percent of Singapore physicians left GME training following only one year; a minimum of five years will be mandatory under the new provisions.

While the countries’ GME systems are set to resemble the American mockup, these U.S. standards are merely scaffolding — according to Nylen, most of the accreditation efforts will be molded to each country, particularly on the grounds of licensing and specialty certification requirements.

“The international standards are not equivalent to the domestic standards, but they are just as rigorous,” he said. “We have to take into account the different delivery systems.”

Alongside more demanding programming, physicians can train in their own countries rather than traveling to the U.S. or Australia, where they would often remain following completion of their instruction. With these new GME updates, Nasca and ACGME hope said regions will retain more physicians. [See also: How to make your first job after residency last]

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