Academic Medical Center (AMC)

What is an academic medical center?

Academic medical centers (AMCs) are hospitals that provide patient care and educate healthcare providers in partnership with at least one medical school accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) or the American Osteopathic Association (AOA). Many AMCs are also university medical centers. In addition to patient care services, they also conduct academic, medical, and human subject research.

What is the difference between academic and community medical centers?

While sometimes offering similar services, a community medical center is a non-academic provider, such as a community hospital or primary care facility. When compared to AMCs, community medical centers are not as involved in graduate medical education and do not conduct as much federally funded research.

Their patient populations are also slightly different, often having a higher share of privately insured individuals, and their staff members may have training in fewer specific specialties. Overall, they treat a greater volume of patients and may be more focused on efficiency than education and research.

How are academic medical centers different from teaching hospitals?

Most AMCs are also teaching hospitals but not all teaching hospitals are AMCs. AMCs are affiliated with a medical school and confer medical degrees. Teaching hospitals have medical students, residents, and other healthcare professionals who are finishing or continuing medical education.

The teaching hospitals are usually associated with a medical school. However, teaching hospitals do not issue medical degrees.

As of December 2023, there are just over 200 hospitals in Definitive Healthcare’s  HospitalView designated as AMCs and nearly 1,400 designated as teaching hospitals.: 196 hospitals are both an AMC and a teaching hospital.

Why are academic medical centers important to healthcare?

If you need serious medical care, visiting an AMC will most likely be your best option for treatment. Their heavy focus on education and research gives them access to cutting-edge technologies, resources, and therapies that may not be available at community hospitals.

Additionally, researchers at AMCs have been responsible for numerous major medical breakthroughs throughout history, including the creation of the polio vaccine and the first use of gene therapy for cystic fibrosis.

Without AMCs, there would be no infrastructure for graduate medical education that gives physicians the crucial experience and exposure that they need when treating a wide range of complex conditions.