Why medical schools are dropping out of US News rankings

The University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine joined a growing list of elite schools on Thursday, ending its participation in US News & World Report’s medical school rankings.

In a letter to US News, Dr. Mark Anderson, dean of Pritzker University, raised concerns about methodology and fairness, asking US News to bring together stakeholders, including medical school applicants, current medical students, and other medical schools, to determine the best way to measure schools. . and communicate what is important to applicants.

The series of medical schools deciding to drop the rankings program by no longer providing data began with Harvard Medical School, which announced its decision on Jan. 17. It was followed by the Stanford University School of Medicine, the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and now the University of Chicago School of Medicine.

So far, institutions such as the Stanford University School of Medicine and the Icahn School of Medicine have emphasized that their healthcare systems continue to feature in US News’ “Best Hospitals” because the list uses different methodologies.

However, Mount Sinai said it plans to review its participation in other US News rankings over time, and others may follow suit.

Despite consistently high rankings on the list (Harvard Medical School ranked first in research rankings), universities have expressed a desire to be judged on a broader range of criteria, including the diversity of their student populations, commitment to social justice, research achievement, community impact, and student values. and teachers. They argue that these factors are a more accurate and fair way for prospective students to rate colleges.

“Us News ratings relegate us to a number that does not reflect these critically important qualities, instead perpetuating a narrow focus on achievement that comes with reputation and is driven by heritage and privilege,” said Dr. Dennis Charney and Dr. David Mueller, Dean of the Icahn School of Medicine, in a press release.

The rankings are based on a number of factors, including student test scores, graduation rates, and debt levels, as well as faculty salaries and per-student spending, which critics say are heavily influenced by institutional wealth.

College Presidents, Principals and Deans of Admissions also evaluate the academic quality of their peer schools in a ranking survey.

US News’ mission is to help millions of students who view medical school rankings make decisions by providing data and solutions, Eric Gertler, the company’s CEO and executive chairman, said in a statement responding to Harvard’s decision.

“We know that it is difficult to compare different institutions on a common set of data, and that is why we constantly state that rankings should be one component of the decision-making process of future students,” he said.

The main consideration for medical schools when deciding to participate in the rankings is how it will affect their image.

Rankings grab the attention of applicants and their families, but they’re not directly related to a school’s ability to become a good doctor, says Dr. Holly Humphrey, president of the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, which funds health education and training. professionals.

“The most important way to understand the educational process at this school is to use multiple sources of data and the many ways that a person interacts with an educational institution,” she said. “Experiences with teachers, students and people who have been patients.”

Similarly, a school’s reputation, which is independent of its rankings, is another way schools can market themselves to potential students, said Stephen Grazer, professor of marketing at Harvard Business School.

Instead of relying on rankings, medical schools should advertise the successes and achievements of former students, residents and interns, which can be spread by word of mouth or through targeted advertising in prominent magazines or other websites, Grazer said.

Overall, the ranked list cannot capture the complexity of how a particular medical school is right for a particular student, regardless of methodology, George Daly, dean of Harvard Medical School, said in a press release.

“Rankings create perverse incentives for institutions to report misleading or inaccurate data, set policies to improve rankings rather than serve nobler goals, or divert financial aid from students in financial need to students with high scores and means to maximize the ranking criteria,” Daly said. .

To help students better assess their abilities, the Stanford School of Medicine plans to begin independently reporting its own performance data starting March 1, Dr. Lloyd Minor, dean of the school, said in a press release. The data will include faculty achievements and impact on education, research, and patient care.

“Our decision, along with those of a growing number of similar institutions, is to conduct a long-overdue study of how the quality of medical education is assessed and presented to aspiring students,” Minor said.

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