Postgraduate Medical Education

Postgraduate Medical Education

In 2023, WFME published revised WFME Global Standards for Quality Improvement: Postgraduate Medical Education. Postgraduate medical education is the phase of planned preparation for specialisation that may occur between graduation from medical school and recognition as a qualified independent practitioner.


Similarly to the WFME Standards for Basic Medical Education (2020) and WFME Standards for Distributed and Distance Learning in Medical Education (2021), the writing team has again moved on from a prescriptive set of requirements to a principles-based approach that allows institutions to make their own version of the standards that is contextually appropriate. We recognise that postgraduate medical education is much more variable and driven by contextual conditions than basic medical education. Because of that, postgraduate medical education is often a bridge between medical school and the local context.

Principles-based standards respond to these conditions by being stated at a broad level of generality rather than defining exactly how things should be done. They address the planning, design and management components of the postgraduate programme, such as postgraduate doctor support, curriculum model, and the assessment system. But they do not say how that support should be offered, nor what curriculum model should be adopted, nor what assessment methods should be used. They ask that the mission and values of the postgraduate medical education programme should be stated, but not what those should be. Those are contextual decisions for local responsible bodies. In this way, principles-based standards can meet the different needs of regulatory agencies and postgraduate medical education designers, providers, and managers around the world to prepare independent practitioners, whatever their resources, contexts, purposes, and stages of development. 

The standards address the elements of postgraduate medical education which encompass the totality of all processes and activities offered to facilitate postgraduate doctors’ learning, wellbeing, and achievement, including the management and quality improvement of medical education programmes.

The standards are presented in eight areas:

  1. Mission and values
  2. Curriculum
  3. Assessment
  4. Postgraduate doctors
  5. Teachers and clinical supervisors
  6. Education and training resources
  7. Quality improvement
  8. Governance and administration


We hope that the revised standards will stimulate productive analysis, thought, conversations, and decisions, whether they are applied as presented here, or are the basis of a local version. 

Standards for PhDs and Master’s degrees

The WFME PGME standards concern professional medical education, not training for academic degrees such as a PhD or a Master’s. ORPHEUS and AMSE propose recommendations for PhD training which are available at

WFME also offers standards for Master’s degrees. You may find it at this link.  

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