MedEdits | Medical School Admissions Consulting

Monday, June 22, 2009

Medical School Rankings: US News And World Report

Every year I have clients say "I really, really, want to attend a top 10 medical school." When I ask them why this is so important, the answer is typically vague and unsubstantiated. I encourage applicants to put their egos aside and really think about their career goals and which school would be the best fit for them -- if they have the luxury of choice. But, these discussions prompted me to revisit the US News and World Report Medical School Rankings which are often quoted.

The most popular article on this topic is from Academic Medicine which sited many flaws in the US News and World Report ranking methodology. Among several factors, the response rate for completion of surveys sent to medical school officials upon which rankings are based was low which decreases validity. Also, confidence intervals, which account for error and are used in all respected research publications, were not used. The criteria used for evaluation were also very narrow.

So, have these standards changed since this article was written? It doesn't appear that way. This year, rankings were also based on very narrow criteria (peer assessment, residency director assessment, research activity, number of students going into primary care, student selectivity, MCAT score, GPA, acceptance rate and faculty resources). The percentage of responders is not disclosed and it does not appear that confidence intervals are used.

I encourage all medical school applicants to evaluate these rankings with a grain of salt. Also, consider your goals as you decide where you "must" go to medical school. Not convinced? Review the medical schools attended of the people who actually teach at the top medical schools. Their credentials may surprise you. I have one colleague who went abroad for medical school and now has a major role in medical student education at a top medical school from which he was rejected as an applicant.

Click Here to see the Academic Medicine Article.
Click Here to see the US News and World Report Rankings.