The WFME standards are a global expert consensus on the standards for medical schools and other providers of medical education throughout the continuum of medical education and training: Basic Medical Education, Post Graduate Medical Education, and Continuing Professional Development. The standards are divided into basic areas and further divided into sub-standards, providing guidance and key questions.
- Standards are intended to guide the development and evaluation of medical education programmes.
- Standards provide a framework to be customised for the local context.
- Standards do not offer a universal core curriculum.
- Standards are not prescriptive.
- Not all of the WFME standards will be relevant in every setting.
WFME Standards trilogy: Areas
Basic Medical Education
Postgraduate Medical Education
Continuing Professional Development
Mission and Values
Mission and Values
Mission and Outcomes
Planning and Documentation
The Individual Doctor
Teachers and Clinical Supervisors
Education and Training Resources
Educational Context and Resources
Evaluation Methods and Competencies
Governance and Administration
Governance and Administration
In 2011, WFME estimated that the global standards had been used by around half of medical schools worldwide. The standards are endorsed by the World Health Organization (see 2013 policy briefing on accreditation), the World Medical Association (2004 resolution) and IAMRA (see 2016 statement on accreditation).
WFME Standards are endorsed by:
Intended audience: health authorities, medical associations, medical schools and national and international institutions and organisations dealing with basic medical education in all countries.
WFME Standards for:
- The standards are based on our current understanding of fundamental principles and best practices in designing, maintaining, and enhancing medical education programmes
- Standards are intended to guide medical education programme development and evaluation, facilitate diagnosis of strengths and weaknesses relating to the medical education programme, and to stimulate quality improvement
- Each institution or regulator should review the relevant standards and develop a version of them that is appropriate to the local context. It would be helpful if those local, contextual standards are mapped on to the original WFME standards
- Not all standards will have application in every setting
It is possible for a medical school to receive a satisfactory overall evaluation and maintain accreditation (where appropriate) without necessarily meeting every standard and sub-standard.
The WFME programme on global standards in medical education has three main aims:
- to stimulate authorities, organisations and institutions having responsibility for medical education to formulate their own plans for change and for quality improvement in accordance with international best practice;
- to establish a system of national and/or international evaluation, accreditation and recognition of medical educational institutions and programmes to assure minimum quality standards for the programmes; and
- to safeguard practice in medicine and the medical workforce in the context of increasing internationalisation.
The original trilogy of WFME global standards (2003) was developed by three international taskforces involving more than 60 medical education experts from across the six WHO-WFME regions. Updates were defined by a small working group and a broad international panel of experts (2012, 2015, 2020).
It is the prerogative of nationally appointed agencies to determine the level that will be required for accreditation of medical schools within the remit of each agency. The WFME standards offer a template for accreditation but the level must be specified, modified or supplemented in accordance with regional, national and institutional needs and priorities. Standards must be clearly defined, and be meaningful, appropriate, relevant, measurable, achievable and accepted by the users. Furthermore, accreditation must give emphasis to improvement, and provide guidance for advancement, instead of simply advocating ‘fulfilment of standards’ as the ultimate goal.
Supplementary guidance published alongside the 2015 Standards in BME describes how an accrediting agency might interpret the standards to define measures for how a medical school meets the different aspects.
WFME publishes the standards in English. We do not have the resource to provide official translations of the standards documents, however we are keen to make the standards accessible. We publish translations on the WFME website, with credit given to the translator, where we are confident that the nuances of the language and the intended meaning has been conveyed.
For permission to translate the WFME standards, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
For general questions, clarifications or to provide feedback on the standards documents please email email@example.com
WFME can offer advice to a medical school or agency in interpreting the WFME standards in the local, regional or national context.