As part of the accreditation process, the (CACMS) requires institutions to commit to a culture of continuous quality improvement, to monitor compliance with CACMS standards on an ongoing basis, and to perform a formal self-evaluation of their medical education program and the academic environment in which students learn. Every eight years, CACMS sends a survey team to complete an onsite visit of each medical program. The role of the survey team is to evaluate the program’s compliance with standards and elements, using information presented in the school’s documentation and during interviews. The review is substantive and requires the involvement of our medical school’s faculty, staff, and students.
Accreditation is a process by which institutions and programs undergo an extensive peer evaluation of their compliance with accepted standards for educational quality. Through accreditation, the (CACMS) provides assurance to medical students, graduates, the medical profession, healthcare institutions, health authorities, regulatory authorities and the public that (1) educational programs culminating in the award of the M.D. degree meet reasonable, generally-accepted, and appropriate national standards for educational quality, and (2) graduates of such programs have a complete and valid educational experience sufficient to prepare them for the next stage of their training.
Purpose of Accreditation
Accreditation provides a mechanism to ensure that a given school meets certain prescribed standards in the provision of its program of medical education. The standards, outlined in have been developed and accepted by medical educators, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC), the American Medical Association (AMA) and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The standards are applied to all medical schools in the United States and Canada.
Accreditation fosters an institutional reflection and evaluation of ongoing activities within the Faculty of Medicine. This process allows the institution to review its strengths and weaknesses and to suggest important recommendations to help it achieve its goals. This process can ultimately help the Faculty further define and revise its strategic plan and shape its direction in the short and long-term.
Overview of the Process
General steps in the accreditation process
Preparing for the Accreditation
The site visit date is set approximately 18 months prior to the visit. A faculty accreditation lead nominated by the dean oversees all accreditation activities. Faculty members, staff, and student leadership should meet with the faculty accreditation lead at the beginning of the process to discuss how best to organize their efforts to collect information and participate in the accreditation review.
The Data Collection Instrument (DCI) includes requests for information for each element of the 12 accreditation standards. While the self-study should consistently focus on data from a specific period of time (i.e., the most recently completed academic year), the DCI should have been completed with all requested historical data. The final report includes data from the ISA and from the AFMC Medical School Graduation Questionnaire (AFMC GQ), a survey completed by graduating medical students.
Medical school self-study
The medical school self-study (MSS) is a detailed self-evaluation of the medical school using accreditation elements as the focus; it typically takes a year or more to complete. The self-study is managed by a steering committee, with subcommittees formed to review and analyze data for each of the 12 accreditation standards. The MSS committees should be broadly representative of the constituencies of the medical school. It should, therefore, include some combination of the following: medical school senior and administrative leaders (academic, fiscal, managerial), department chairs and heads of sections, junior and senior faculty members, medical students, medical school graduates, faculty members and/or administrators of the general university, representatives of clinical affiliates, and trustees (regents) of the medical school/university. Additionally, the MSS task force could include graduate students in the basic biomedical sciences, residents involved in medical student education, and community physicians.
Completion of an Independent Student Analysis
At the same time that the school initiates its self-study process, the student leadership begins the process of launching the student survey. The survey is administered to all enrolled students in order to develop a comprehensive picture of students’ perceptions of their medical school. The survey covers Student-Faculty Administrative Relationships; Learning Environment; Facilities; Library and Information Technology Resources; Student Services; Medical Education Program; and Opportunities for Research and other Scholarly Activities and Service-Learning. A well-conducted student survey, with a high response rate and a thoughtful analysis of the data, provide important information for the deliberations of the site visit team.
The CACMS Secretariat will appoint a site visit team consisting of five to six members coming from a variety of backgrounds (e.g., deans, associate deans of curriculum and student affairs, medical educators, experts in faculty affairs) and include, wherever possible, a medical student. Site visit team members review the completed DCI, the final MSS report, and the ISA report, and develop a preliminary assessment of the program before arriving at the school for the site visit.
Site Visit Report
The team secretary collates written findings from each team member into a visit report that describes the program of education and accounts for the school's compliance with each of the standards of accreditation as contained in the CACMS Standards and Elements. The preparation, review, and processing of visit reports, and the information considered for accreditation determinations are given in the CACMS Rules of Procedure.
Decisions and actions
The CACMS reviews the site visit report, renders decisions on the medical education program’s compliance with accreditation standards and elements, determines the program accreditation status, and the required follow-up activities
A Collaborative Process
Accreditation of the MD program is essential to the medical school, and fosters a climate of continuous improvement of the program.
Maintenance of the quality of the program, and preparations for the accreditation survey visit require the support and involvement of every component of the Faculty of Medicine. Students, faculty members, and staff will all be involved in the Independent Student Analysis, the Medical School Self-Study and the site visit.
Steps in the accreditation process:
- Completion of the CACMS Data Collection Instrument by Faculty administrators, Faculty members and students.
- Preparation of an Independent Student Analysis base on a comprehensive student survey.
- Analysis of the database and other information sources by the Medical School Self-Study Task Force (MSSTF) and its subcommittees, and development of the committee reports, and the summative self-study report.
- Visitation by a CACMS survey team and preparation of the survey team report.
- Decision on accreditation by CACMS, and letter of notification to the school outlining issues that require attention, and requirements for subsequent actions.