Assessing primary medical education
The Australian Medical Council (AMC) assesses and accredits medical education providers and their primary medical programs; that is, programs that lead to a qualification that permits the holder to seek general registration as a medical practitioner. The AMC accreditation process is not concerned with level of the qualification provided (e.g. bachelor degree or master degree).
The AMC and the Medical Council of New Zealand work collaboratively to assess New Zealand primary medical education providers and their programs. AMC accreditation of these providers allows their graduates registration in Australia. The Medical Council of New Zealand uses the accreditation reports on Australian and New Zealand medical education providers in deciding on the recognition of those medical education providers and their programs in New Zealand.
The AMC’s Medical School Accreditation Committee oversees the process for assessment and accreditation of primary medical education programs and their providers.
Reporting to the AMC Directors, the Committee’s roles are:
- advising the AMC on guidelines, policy and procedures relating to the assessment and accreditation of primary medical programs and their education providers
- overseeing the AMC’s accreditation activities for primary medical education programs; and
- encouraging improvements in medical education in Australia and New Zealand that respond to evolving health needs and practices, and educational and scientific developments.
AMC accreditation is based on self and peer assessment. Assessments are conducted by teams which report to the Medical School Accreditation Committee. Teams may include a mix of assessors from different regions and providers, the medical science and the clinical disciplines, hospital and community-based teachers, experienced academic managers, health service managers, and community interests.
Scope of accreditation
The AMC assesses all primary medical programs against one set of accreditation standards. The AMC is concerned with the professional requirements namely, whether the education provider and the program of study provide graduates with the knowledge, skills and professional attributes to practise medicine in Australia. While there may be a difference in the academic requirements for a bachelor degree and a master degree, programs at both qualification levels may satisfy the AMC accreditation requirements.
The AMC accredits only complete primary medical programs that result in the award of an academic qualification of a medical education provider located predominantly in Australia or New Zealand.
Accreditation is awarded to the provider for the specific medical program, identified by its degree title. By ‘complete medical program’, the AMC means that the education provider awarding the qualification is responsible for providing the entire program to the accreditation standards, described in the Standards for Assessment and Accreditation of Primary Medical Programs by the Australian Medical Council.
The AMC assesses programs offered jointly by two or more providers, which result in the award of a qualification by more than one provider, as one program, but it accredits all the providers which award a qualification for the program.
The AMC does not:
- grant separate accreditation to branch campuses or clinical schools unless the programs at the campuses or schools result in distinct qualifications, and the delivery and management of the programs differs from campus to campus or school to school; or
- separately accredit distinct streams (e.g. a graduate-entry stream) within an educational program. The AMC regards the introduction of such streams as a major change to the accredited medical program, and it assesses the plans for such programs before they are implemented. The accreditation awarded following a successful assessment relates to the whole medical program, not just to the separate stream.
Purpose of AMC accreditation
The purpose of AMC accreditation is the recognition of medical programs that produce graduates competent to practise safely and effectively under supervision as interns in Australia and New Zealand, and with an appropriate foundation for lifelong learning and for further training in any branch of medicine.
The AMC may grant accreditation if it is reasonably satisfied that a medical education provider and its medical program/s meet the approved accreditation standards. It may also grant accreditation if it is reasonably satisfied that the education provider and its medical program/s substantially meet the approved accreditation standards, and the imposition of conditions will ensure the program meets the standards within a reasonable time.
Accreditation standards address the requirements for delivery of high quality medical education and cover:
- The context of the medical program
- The outcomes of the medical program
- The medical curriculum
- Learning and teaching
- The curriculum - assessment of student learning
- The curriculum - monitoring
- Implementing the curriculum - students
- Implementing the curriculum - learning environment
The Procedures for Assessment and Accreditation of Medical Schools by the Australian Medical Council 2015 explains how the AMC manages the accreditation process, the procedures for assessing education providers and their medical programs, and the accreditation decisions made by the AMC.
The AMC completed a review of its accreditation procedures in 2015 to align with the revised procedures for specialist education medical programs. It also streamlined and clarified some processes based on its experience.