Former Medical School Deans Call on Medical Schools to Withdraw from the U.S. News Ranking

This forum made possible through the generous support of SDN members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you.
A recent Stat News op-ed, co-written by former University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine leaders, is calling on medical schools to follow Yale, Harvard, and other leading law schools in withdrawing from participation in the U.S. News rankings. The authors, Holly Humphrey, a physician and current President of the Macy Foundation, and Dana Levinson, Chief Program Officer of the Macy Foundation contend that the current U.S. News ranking system, “is in direct opposition to medical schools’ goal of educating a well-trained, diverse, and culturally competent medical workforce.”

Humphrey and Levinson argue that the rankings’ methodology is “ill conceived” and fails to include critical output metrics. The two claim that, across most included metrics, the data tends to favor large and wealthy institutions over smaller ones with no clear demonstration of how each metric directly benefits student education. For example, the inclusion of total federal research dollars favors larger institutions, although that money may or may not directly fund students’ education or participation in the research. The authors also note that the survey response rate, which drives the reputation score, falls far below the standard of a peer-reviewed publication. Additionally, the use of average MCAT scores and undergraduate GPAs unduly advantages schools with students from higher socioeconomic backgrounds as well as incorporates bias that may exist in the educational system. Finally, Humphrey and Levinson note that including the acceptance rate in the rankings can lead a school to encourage applicants to submit applications, regardless of if those applicants have a reasonable likelihood of admissions success.

The authors also point out what is missing from the rankings. Namely, data on the quality of the education including the clinical skills, scientific acumen, and abilities of a schools’ graduates. The authors’ position, which is in line with that of Yale and Harvard Law, is that the rankings are not just potentially misleading but that in some cases they actually do a “grave disservice” to applicants by reinforcing bias or poor admissions practices. Humphrey and Levinson believe that if medical schools take the step of removing themselves from the rankings, they can play a more “honest and forthright” role in assisting applicants as they “...navigate the process of finding the right school to help them become the doctors they aspire to be.”

Check out our blog for more medical school news, trends, and application tips!

Members don't see this ad.