BACKGROUND: Formal international medical programmes (IMPs) represent an evolution away from traditional medical volunteerism, and are based on the foundation of bidirectional exchange of knowledge, experience and organizational expertise. The intent is to develop multidirectional collaborations and local capacity that is resilient in the face of limited resources. Training and accreditation of surgeons continues to be a challenge to IMPs, including the need for mutual recognition of competencies and professional certification. METHODS: MEDLINE, Embase and Google Scholar™ were searched using the following terms, alone and in combination: 'credentialing', 'education', 'global surgery', 'international medicine', 'international surgery' and 'training'. Secondary references cited by original sources were also included. The authors, all members of the American College of Academic International Medicine group, agreed advice on training and accreditation of international surgeons. RESULTS AND CONCLUSION: The following are key elements of training and accrediting international surgeons: basic framework built upon a bidirectional approach; consideration of both high-income and low- and middle-income country perspectives; sourcing funding from current sources based on existing IMPs and networks of IMPs; emphasis on predetermined cultural competencies and a common set of core surgical skills; a decentralized global system for verification and mutual recognition of medical training and certification. The global medical system of the future will require the assurance of high standards for surgical education, training and accreditation.
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