Regional Medical Campuses (RMCs) are unique, but not uncommon, settings used by medical schools to fulfil their missions. According to AAMC data, over thirty percent of medical schools in the United States (and higher in Canada) have at least one RMC. They vary greatly in structure, location, mission, and educational experiences.
The Liaison Committee on Medical Education defines an RMC as “an instructional site that is distinct from the central/administrative campus of the medical school and at which some students spend one or more complete curricular years.”
It is important to understand that RMCs do not receive independent accreditation from the LCME or the Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools but are included in the accreditation process for the home institution.
To build on the LCME definition, and to better understand RMCs, a classification system, or taxonomy of RMCs, described in the Academic Medicine article, “Regional Medical Campuses: A New Classification System,” is frequently referenced.
The classification system describes the following four models of RMCs:
Basic science model
This model permits three variations: basic science year 1 only; basic science year 2 only; and basic science year 1 and 2 in entirety.
To be designated under this model, an RMC may provide year 3 in full (100% of required third-year rotations occur at the regional campus); year 3 and 4 in full (100% of required third-year rotations and fourth-year rotations/curriculum occur at the regional campus); year 3 in part (greater than 50% of required third-year rotations occur at the regional campus, where clerkships must be offered in their entirety and be managed directly by the regional campus).
The determinant for this model is basic science and/or clinical experiences spanning a period greater than 12 weeks in one or more courses of study or core areas. There must be continuous assignment of learners to the site over repeated cycles and administrative mechanisms to coordinate the academic experience, student affairs, and faculty oversight.
Several variations are possible under the combined model, where basic science and clinical years are offered in some combination—for example, years 1, 2, and 3 in whole or in part; years 2, 3, and 4; or years 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Cheifetz CE, McOwen KS, Gagne P, Wong JL. Regional medical campuses: A new classification system. Acad Med. 2014; 89:1140-1143.