Guide to Accreditation

In the Fall of 2022, the medical school at the University of Alberta will undergo accreditation. How can every learner, staff, and faculty member prepare? What should you know about our medical school? Find out below or read the digital booklet here.

The Little Yellow Book for Accreditation ‘22

All Canadian medical schools undergo a rigorous accreditation process every eight years. Through this process, the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools (CACMS) ensures that Canadian medical faculties meet the standards required for educating tomorrow’s medical doctors.

From the CACMS website:

“Through accreditation, the CACMS provides assurance to medical students, graduates, the medical profession, healthcare institutions, health authorities, regulatory authorities and the public that:

  • educational programs culminating in the award of the M.D. degree meet reasonable, generally-accepted, and appropriate national standards for educational quality, and
  • graduates of such programs have a complete and valid educational experience sufficient to prepare them for the next stage of their training” 

Find more general information about accreditation: CACMS

Find information about Accreditation 2022 at the U of A 
Focus on social accountability and EDI

The Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry (FoMD) is focused on social accountability in all that we do. This focus is embedded in our strategic plan, Vision 2025, and in our mission statement: “To serve the public with social accountability through partnerships, leadership, and innovation in education, research and health care.”

The FoMD is committed to social justice, anti-racism, and serving communities that continue to experience health inequities. 

Here are just a few programs and roles that support us in honouring this commitment:

  • Office of Rural & Regional Health: helps provide educational opportunities in rural and remote regions to encourage medical students to consider careers in these traditionally underserved areas 
  • Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion: Identifies and promotes practices and principles that celebrate the strengths in difference and ensures equitable opportunities in employment, education and delivery of care 
  • Indigenous Health Program: Builds partnerships with Indigenous communities to promote increased recruitment of Indigenous learners into health education and a future career in the health-care professions 
  • Anti-Racism Commitment to Change Task Force: Led by the Assistant Dean of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, this group has developed a substantive, action-oriented strategy to address racism, focusing on four areas: Awareness, Recognition, Reporting, and Management and Remediation 
  • Social Accountability Lead, MD Program: Works alongside communities with priority health concerns and develops the relationships and processes necessary to guide the MD Program in its social accountability mandate
  • Black Health Lead, MD Program: Works to increase Black physician representation in several areas, including preceptors for lectures, as well as longitudinal clinical experiences, physical exam sessions and clerkship experiences
  • Advisory Council on Social Accountability, MD Program: Promotes the mission, vision, and strategic plan for the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, as it relates to social accountability, within the MD Program
  • MD AIDE Program: Launched and offered by student volunteers, this program offers free MCAT and interview preparation to students facing financial barriers and students from underrepresented backgrounds. 

In addition to what is offered by the FoMD and MD program, medical students take an active leadership role within the Medical Students Association,  Indigenous Medical and Dental Students' Association , Black Medical Students Association, and several other clubs that champion topics in EDI and build relationships with the communities that we serve.

Addressing mistreatment

Mistreatment includes bullying, harassment, discrimination, or any other behaviour that contributes to an unsafe learning environment. There is no place for mistreatment in the FoMD. We have policies that define mistreatment, mechanisms to respond and act promptly, and a commitment to actively prevent it. 

We have a “no wrong door approach” to reporting of mistreatment and commit to acting to address all concerns, while protecting the safety and dignity of all involved. If at any time our members—including learners, staff, and faculty members—experience or witness mistreatment, and are seeking help, there are several offices and groups that offer support and advocacy.

  • The MD Program
  • The Office of Advocacy and Wellbeing
  • The Office of Professionalism
  • Academic Departments
  • The Chief Wellness Officer

Tools and mechanisms in place to report and prevent mistreatment include:

MD Program

The medical education program (MD Program), which has oversight by the MD Curriculum & Program Committee (MDCPC), delivers a comprehensive education program leading to the degree of Doctor of Medicine (MD). Included in the MD program are:

  • Curriculum Delivery and Management
  • Assessment
  • Academic Affairs and Academic Standings
  • Learning Support
  • Program Evaluation and Quality Improvement 
  • Learning Science

The medical school, which includes the MD Program and all the resources and supports needed to deliver it, includes the following:

  • Admissions
  • Office of Advocacy & Wellbeing
  • Resident physicians
  • Academic departments
  • Indigenous Health Program
  • Office of Rural & Regional Health
  • Office of Professionalism
  • Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
  • Social Accountability (new unit TBA summer 2022

View the organizational chart 

MD Program strategic plan (2022-27)

Our vision: With our communities, inspired through learning, serving society.

Our mission: Our medical school develops diverse, competent, and compassionate physician leaders to serve the health needs of Alberta, northern communities and Canada through adaptive innovation and social accountability.

Our values: In all our interactions with students, learners, staff, instructors, care providers, and patients, we value well-being, compassion, cultural safety, diverse perspectives, health equity, and growth. 

Six key focus areas of the five-year strategic plan:

  • People come first
  • Generalism and adaptive practice
  • Social accountability
  • Health-promoting learning and work environments
  • Responsive curriculum
  • Educational technology

Find the detailed plan here

Course and clerkship coordinators: What do they do?

Course and clerkship coordinators are appointed by the Associate Dean of the MD Program, with recommendation and approval of their Department Chair. 

Coordinators are responsible for:

  • stewardship (careful administration) of a specific course or clerkship 
  • developing appropriate learning strategies so that students meet required learning objectives
  • ensuring appropriate student assessments and evaluations are completed as required by the policies of the MD Program. 
  • All course and clerkship coordinators are members of the Pre-Clerkship/Clerkship Coordinators Committee.
Program level objectives

MD program level objectives prepare students for successful transition to residency and beyond, to develop competent, socially accountable, and compassionate physician leaders prepared to serve their communities.  The PLOs give backbone to our entire curriculum through course and session level objectives.

Here are they are, based on the CanMEDS framework:

Medical expert

The medical graduate will:

  • Conduct a complete history and physical exam targeted to a patient’s clinical situation.
  • Generate a meaningful differential diagnosis and select appropriate therapy with emphasis on prioritization of common, chronic and urgent clinical presentations. 
  • Interpret common investigations. 
  • Demonstrate clinical decision-making skills that acknowledge patient values and principles of patient-centered care.
  • Apply basic knowledge of the etiology, pathogenesis, clinical features, complications, principles of prevention and management with emphasis on common and life- threatening illnesses across the age spectrum.
  • Demonstrate appropriate use of selected procedural skills. 
  • Apply information technology in patient care effectively.


The medical graduate will:

  • Demonstrate effective communication skills to develop a therapeutic relationship with diverse patients and families, including building trust and rapport, recognizing personal bias, and considering patients’ beliefs, values and cultures, especially in difficult situations.
  • Apply principles of trauma informed care and culturally safe principles to guide communication.
  • Discuss disease management with patients and families, engaging patients in shared decision making. 
  • Summarize clinical encounters in oral or written presentation in a clear, accurate, and timely manner.


The medical graduate will:

  • Collaborate as part of the healthcare team to support interdisciplinary care. 
  • Participate in respectful strategies that promote conflict resolution and negotiation in the context of the learning setting, patient care and/or team functioning. 
  • Reflect on, and provide feedback in an appropriate and timely manner in their learning and practice.


The medical graduate will:

  • Describe the principles of effective leadership in the context of different roles.
  • Summarize principles of quality improvement in health care.
  • Apply principles of resource stewardship in patient care. 

Health Advocate

The medical graduate will:

  •  Incorporate individual, interpersonal, familial, cultural, societal, and environmental determinants of health and illness across a diverse population into patient centered care.
  • Identify the priority health needs of the communities in which they serve.
  • Apply principles of allyship, anti-racism and anti-oppression in advocating for individual patients as well as advocacy within the healthcare system.
  • Recognize patient safety issues and contribute to their resolution.
  • Discuss health promotion and disease prevention with patients and families.


The medical graduate will:

  • Explain basic science and clinical research principles.
  • Describe the scientific principles underlying evidence-informed approaches to health maintenance, preventive screening, therapeutic, rehabilitative, and palliative interventions.
  • Demonstrate critical reflection and inquiry to adaptive practice and self-directed, life-long learning.


The medical graduate will:

  • Exemplify appropriate professional behavior (as defined by the CMA and CPSA Code of Ethics), including awareness of personal wellness and limitations.
  • Evaluate priorities to achieve a balance of professional and personal commitments.
  • Discuss ethical and legal principles as they apply to medical practice.

The MD program is divided into two distinct stages:

  • Pre-clerkship: Years 1 and 2 (11 courses)
  • Clerkship: Years 3 and 4 (10 required clinical experiences)


  • Foundations of Medicine
  • Endocrinology & Metabolism
  • Cardiovascular
  • Pulmonary
  • Renal
  • Gastroenterology and Nutrition
  • Reproductive Medicine and Urology
  • Musculoskeletal System
  • Psychiatry
  • Neurosciences and Organs of Special Senses
  • Oncology


  • Family Medicine
  • Surgery, General and Subspecialty
  • Medicine, General and Subspecialty
  • Pediatrics
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Psychiatry
  • Emergency
  • Geriatrics

Longitudinal Themes

This longitudinal course runs across all four years of the medical school curriculum and complements the medical expert portion of the MD program by helping medical students develop the other CanMEDs roles (communicator, professional, health advocate, scholar, collaborator). Some themes are integrated into courses and clerkships, including:

  • Social accountability
    • Indigenous Health
    • Black Health
    • Reproductive & Sexual Health
  • Evidence-based medicine
  • Ethics
  • Patient safety
  • Health systems
  • Public health and preventive medicine
  • Interprofessional education

Students also participate in stand-alone longitudinal themes including:

  • Clinical skills (communication skills and physical exam skills)
  • Patient Immersion Experience (PIE)
  • Physician Discussion Group (PDG)
  • Students in Service (SIS)
  • Longitudinal Clinical Experience (LCE)

Rural exposure

All students complete a minimum of four weeks in rural communities during their Family Medicine clerkship (Year 3). 

The following options are also available for further rural exposure:

  • Year 2 Gastroenterology & Nutrition course in a rural community, through the Pre-Clinical Networked Medical Education (PNME) program
  • Integrated Community Clerkship for the entire third year (longitudinal) in a rural or remote setting 
  • Year 4 core rotations in Grande Prairie, Alberta
Student assessment

We are required to ensure that all courses and clerkships return final grades in a timely fashion (by accreditation standards, this is within six weeks of the end of the course or clerkship). This is monitored monthly by the MD Program through the assessment committee. 

The routine provision of narrative assessment is also required as part of the student assessment in all courses and clerkships.

Formative feedback must also be provided to all students early enough during each required learning experience* to allow sufficient time for remediation. 

All students must be observed doing a history and physical examination in each clerkship rotation. This is monitored through the Entrustable Professional Activity (EPA) form #1.

*Required learning experiences = all mandatory (core) courses and clerkships

Evaluation and student feedback

Program Evaluation Framework

As part of the systematic, comprehensive evaluation of the MD Program and curriculum, the Program Evaluation Framework collects data from a variety of sources to determine the extent to which the program and the curriculum are meeting its objectives.

This framework provides a systematic approach to the evaluation of the MD Program and its curriculum, helps to inform continuous quality improvement, and supports accreditation. It outlines: 

  • overall approach to program evaluation and quality improvement
  • the role of the Program Evaluation Unit in the implementation of strategy
  • the sources of data, timelines, and implementation plans 

Student feedback

Student feedback is critical for the MD Program and its instructors. The Program Evaluation Unit within the MD Program oversees the provision and use of student feedback as part of a robust plan that guides the evaluation of the curriculum and the program. 

Student feedback is collected in a variety of ways, including forms that evaluate courses, clerkships, individual sessions, small groups, and individual preceptors. All of this feedback is collected, analyzed, and shared with the program, course/clerkship coordinators, and individual preceptors.

Student feedback is reviewed and acted upon through a series of processes, including: 

  • annual review meetings
  • bi-annual course/clerkship review working groups
  • (when necessary) meetings between the associate dean, MD program, an individual preceptor, and/or that individual’s department chair
Scheduled time in courses and clerkships

Pre-Clerkship Scheduled Time Policy: The standard scheduling format for pre-clerkship courses follows the MD Program’s ‘11-5-5-6’ rule. This rule limits the amount of scheduled time for pre-clerkship learners in a given week. The weekly curricular schedule will also include a minimum of 10 hours of unscheduled time (in a 40-hour week), to be used at the student’s discretion for self-directed learning or other activities

Clerkship Duty Hours Policy: The 26 Hour Rule