Background: In the past several years, there has been a rapid expansion in the number of medical schools. Presently, there are over 1,900 operating medical schools in the world, located on six of the seven continents. Regrettably, other than for select countries and regions, relatively little is known about the characteristics or the quality of these institutions.
Description: The International Medical Education Directory (IMED) provides an accurate and up-to-date resource of information about medical schools. Based on current listings in IMED, the geographical distribution of medical schools does not mirror the regional population. The Caribbean, with a total population of less than 40 million, has 54 operating medical schools. In contrast, of the 57 African nations, 16 did not have a single medical school.
Conclusions: Given the physician's role in the healthcare team, the challenges presented by migration of healthcare workers, and questions concerning the adequacy of existing institutions to meet healthcare needs, developing and maintaining accurate and detailed information on the world's medical schools and their graduates is paramount.