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Marta van Zanten, Danette McKinley, Irene Durante Montiel and Concepcion V Pijano
Medical Education 2012: 46:586–592
Context Accreditation of medical education programmes is becoming increasingly prevalent worldwide, but beyond the face validity of these quality assurance methods, data linking accreditation to improved student outcomes are limited. Mexico and the Philippines both have voluntary systems of medical education accreditation and large numbers of students who voluntarily take components of the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). We investigated the examination performance of Mexican and Philippine citizens who attended medical schools in their home countries by medical school accreditation status.
Methods The sample included 5045 individuals (1238 from Mexico, 3807 from the Philippines) who took at least one of the three USMLE components required for Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) certification. We also separately studied 2702 individuals who took all three examinations (589 from Mexico, 2113 from the Philippines). The chi-squared statistic was used to determine whether the associations between outcomes (first attempt pass rate on USMLE components and rate of ECFMG certification) and medical school accreditation (yes/no) were statistically significant.
Results For the sample of registrants who took at least one USMLE component, first attempt pass rates on all USMLE components were higher for individuals attending accredited schools, although there were differences in pass rates among the components and between the two countries. The distinction was greatest for USMLE Step 1, for which attending an accredited school was associated with increases in first attempt pass rates of 15.9% for Mexican citizens and 29.2% for Philippine citizens. In registrants from the Philippines who took all three examinations, attending an accredited medical school was also associated with increased success in obtaining ECFMG certification.
Conclusions These findings support the value and usefulness of accreditation in Mexico and the Philippines by linking accreditation to improved student outcomes.