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The mission of the ACGME is to improve health care and population health by assessing and advancing the quality of resident physicians' education through accreditation.

The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) is an independent, 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization that accredits US medical residency and fellowship programs and the institutions that sponsor them.

The ACGME accredits programs and institutions that provide or sponsor graduate medical education to physicians who have completed medical school and are specializing or subspecializing in a particular area of medicine. The ACGME uses best practices and research to enhance graduate medical education.

In Academic Year 2015-2016, there were approximately 10,000 ACGME-accredited residency and fellowship programs in 150 specialties and subspecialties at approximately 800 Sponsoring Institutions. The number of active full-time and part-time residents and fellows was approximately 125,000. One out of seven active physicians in the US is a resident or fellow.

What Is Graduate Medical Education?

Graduate medical education is training in a particular specialty (residency) or subspecialty (fellowship).

  • Physicians entering ACGME-accredited residency programs hold an MD (Doctor of Medicine) or DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) degree. These programs generally last between one to seven years, providing clinical experience and education in a particular specialty.
  • Following residency, many physicians pursue additional clinical experience and education in a subspecialty, or fellowship, program.
  • Practicing physicians, after graduation from residency and fellowship programs, must participate in continuing medical education (CME) to maintain their licenses. Learn more about CME on the ACCME website.

Learn more about Physician Education

What is Accreditation?

Through a continuous review process, including research, data collection and evaluation, surveys, and site visits, the ACGME sets standards for institutions and programs and assesses compliance (the Institutional and Program Requirements).

Requirements are set, and compliance with those requirements is assessed, by specialty-specific Review Committees made up of volunteer physician experts in the field, including residents/fellows, as well as public representatives. There are 28 of these specialty-specific Review Committees, including one for Transitional Year programs. The Institutional Review Committee reviews and accredits institutions that sponsor graduate medical education programs. Each Review Committee receives data on all accredited or applicant programs or institutions within its purview, and makes an accreditation status decision on each, annually.

Learn more about the Committees and Members Selection Process

The ACGME and the graduate medical education community have made significant advances over recent years to transition to an accreditation model that encourages excellence and innovation. Shifting the emphasis from “time served” and compliance with minimum standards to competency-based assessment has been facilitated by monitoring and evaluating real-time data that tracks residents’ and fellows’ education and achievements.

The specialty education of physicians to practice independently is experiential, and necessarily occurs within the context of the health care delivery system. Developing the skills, knowledge, and attitudes leading to proficiency in all the domains of clinical competency requires the resident physician to assume personal responsibility for the care of individual patients. For the resident, the essential learning activity is interaction with patients under the guidance and supervision of faculty members who give value, context, and meaning to those interactions. As residents gain experience and demonstrate growth in their ability to care for patients, they assume roles that permit them to exercise those skills with greater independence. This concept--graded and progressive responsibility--is one of the core tenets of American graduate medical education. Supervision in the setting of graduate medical education has the goals of assuring safe and effective care to patients, which leads to each resident’s development of the skills, knowledge, and attitudes required to enter the unsupervised practice of medicine; and establishing a foundation for continued professional growth.

View a Summary of the   ACGME’s Strategic Plan
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