Medical school accreditation is a relatively new phenomenon in Korea. The development of an accreditation body and standards for a two-tiered "Must" and "Should" system in 1997 eventually led to the implementation of a third "Excellence" level of attainment. These standards were conceived out of a desire to be able to first recognize and promote outstanding performance of medical schools, second to provide role models in medical education, and furthermore to preview the third level as potential components of the pre-existing second level for the next accreditation cycle. It is a quality-assurance mechanism that, while not required for accreditation itself, pushes medical schools to go beyond the traditional requirements of mere pass-or-fail accreditation adequacy, and encourages schools to deliver an unprecedented level of medical education. The Association for Medical Education in Europe developed its own third-tier system of evaluation under the ASPIRE project, with many similar goals. Due to its advanced nature and global scope, the Korean accreditation body has decided to implement the ASPIRE system in Korea as well.
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