A medical school is a tertiary educational institution, or part of such an institution, that teaches medicine, and awards a professional degree for physicians. Such medical degrees include the Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS, MBChB, MBBCh, BMBS), Master of Medicine (MM, MMed), Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.). Many medical schools offer additional degrees, such as a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), master's degree (M.Sc.) or other post-secondary education.
Medical schools can also carry out medical research and operate teaching hospitals. Around the world, criteria, structure, teaching methodology, and nature of medical programs offered at medical schools vary considerably. Medical schools are often highly competitive, using standardized entrance examinations, as well as grade point averages and leadership roles, to narrow the selection criteria for candidates. In most countries, the study of medicine is completed as an undergraduate degree not requiring prerequisite undergraduate coursework. However, an increasing number of places are emerging for graduate entrants who have completed an undergraduate degree including some required courses. In the United States and Canada, almost all medical degrees are second entry degrees, and require several years of previous study at the university level.
Medical degrees are awarded to medical students after the completion of their degree program, which typically lasts five or more years for the undergraduate model and four years for the graduate model. Many modern medical schools integrate clinical education with basic sciences from the beginning of the curriculum (e.g.). More traditional curricula are usually divided into preclinical and clinical blocks. In preclinical sciences, students study subjects such as biochemistry, genetics, pharmacology, pathology, anatomy, physiology and medical microbiology, among others. Subsequent clinical rotations usually include internal medicine, general surgery, pediatrics, psychiatry, and obstetrics and gynecology, among others.
Although medical schools confer upon graduates a medical degree, a physician typically may not legally practice medicine until licensed by the local government authority. Licensing may also require passing a test, undergoing a criminal background check, checking references, paying a fee, and undergoing several years of postgraduate training. Medical schools are regulated by each country and appear in the World Directory of Medical Schools which was formed by the merger of the AVICENNA Directory for Medicine and the FAIMER International Medical Education Directory.