HappiSquirrel

5+ Year Member
Aug 30, 2014
48
48
California
Hi all,

Im applying next cycle and i have some general questions regarding rankings of medical schools.

so recently I have purchased the MSAR, and USNEWS, as well as looking at the findthebest.com. What has come to my attention is that there all rank schools differently. For example, Loyola Stritch would have really high stats on MSAR, but it would be ranked as 124 on findthebest.com, and unranked on USNEWS. I have always thought Stricth is a prestigious private medical college.

People have always told me to choose a more prestigious medical school than a lesser one.

But, how can you determine that? and Im really curious as to what is your criteria for a "good medical school".

Thanks
 

Doudline

7+ Year Member
Aug 17, 2012
2,252
1,818
Research money + reputation.

aka your medical EDUCATION has little to do with rankings. Your networking and research possibilities, however, are more highly correlated with rankings. Take that as you will.
 
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Osteoth

Fake it till ya' make it
7+ Year Member
Feb 12, 2012
1,420
1,066
East coast
Status
Medical Student
US News also has a "primary care" ranking which is determined based on the % of classes that go into primary care fields.

This is obviously skewed based on class size, but no metric is perfect.
 
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sunflower18

Master of Naps
7+ Year Member
Oct 23, 2011
3,391
3,823
Status
Medical Student
I think rankings are a fine thing to be aware of, but IMHO, they are certainly not the best (or even one of the most valuable) metrics for composing a school list and making a decision. I think it's important to go to a school that has excellent resources and faculty and networking abilities, and as @Doudline said, these things are often found at highly ranked institutions. But as you've found, there are absolutely exceptions to the USNWR hierarchy, and if a school you love isn't on the top 20 (or whatever), don't let that be the deciding factor in whether or not you apply or attend that institution.
 

Goro

7+ Year Member
Jun 10, 2010
54,162
80,174
Somewhere west of St. Louis
Status
Non-Student
The wise Hushcom answered this aspect the best "he called it "US Snooze and World Report".

I do not take its ranking seriously, and neither do any of my clinician colleagues.

If you want to get an idea of ranks or tiers, just use the Lizzym score as a rule of thumb. Even better, compare your GPA and MCAT score to the median numbers of the med schools, and place yourself accordingly. In order to avoid getting depressed, look at the ranges of the 10-90th percentiles..the narrower they are, the more competitive the school.

I don't know if I'd agree with all the best.com either. They use part of USN&WR for their rankings and UNC over Wash U and Stanford?? Oregon over UTSW? Their median incoming numbers are not accurate, either.

One should also compare match lists to get an idea of how successful a grad of schools can be. But I'll defer to my colleagues who are residents to comment on this though.



Hi all,

Im applying next cycle and i have some general questions regarding rankings of medical schools.

so recently I have purchased the MSAR, and USNEWS, as well as looking at the findthebest.com. What has come to my attention is that there all rank schools differently. For example, Loyola Stritch would have really high stats on MSAR, but it would be ranked as 124 on findthebest.com, and unranked on USNEWS. I have always thought Stricth is a prestigious private medical college.

People have always told me to choose a more prestigious medical school than a lesser one.

But, how can you determine that? and Im really curious as to what is your criteria for a "good medical school".

Thanks
 

mimelim

Vascular Surgery
7+ Year Member
Sep 19, 2011
4,878
14,344
Status
Attending Physician
Mimelim's guide to picking the best medical school

Let us get somethings out of the way first. You can take these as fact:

#1 There is no one best medical school.
#2 There are better schools than others.
#3 Every applicant has different wants/needs and what is best for you may not be the best for other people.
#4 For every applicant, there may be one 'best' school, but there are dozens of schools that they would do well at.
#5 No matter how much time and energy you put into this, you will be naive and never get a 'perfect' answer. And that is okay!

Your only goal is to find the best medical school for you. The secret to this is that nobody, not your pre-med advisers, your friends, your family, faculty nor SDN can tell you the answer to this. The primary reason for this is that everyone is private about certain things. You don't share all your wants/desires/goals with the entire world. There are things that matter to us that we don't necessarily want the world to know. Also, the vast majority of things are continuous variables and are incredibly difficult to fully communicate to other people to help them do the computation with/for you. To solve this question, first you need to define the variables. The following are the major variables in no particular order.

a) Academics
b) Finances
c) Proximity to family
d) Proximity to significant other
e) Research opportunities
f) Clinical opportunities

Do not underestimate the importance of all of these. I will skip academics until the end since that is the easiest to see the need for, but hardest to really integrate.

Finances - Medical school is expensive. You can google for your own stats of the week. It is not uncommon for people to have 200k+ in debt. You will be working as a resident/fellow for 45-60k per year for somewhere between 3-9 years after you graduate. You will likely be in or closing in on your 30s at that point. That is a big hole to start one's career off in. As a physician in the US, you will not starve. You will be comfortable. You will make more than the vast vast majority of Americans. But, good financial prudence EARLY goes a long way. Never mind specific goals. Being financially savvy early will give you flexibility later.

Proximity to family/SO - Medical school is hard. The biggest problem is that it isn't just academically hard. It is hard from a personal standpoint. You will be working hard, all the time. This takes a toll on relationships. But, more than that, people do better when they have a strong support system. You don't HAVE to have people around. But, you will be a better doctor if you are happy. Part of that, for most people, is being around the people that they love.

Research/clinical opportunities - You can go into any specialty from any medical school. Yes, you can. But, realize that it IS harder coming from different schools. Part of it is prestige. However, I would argue far more importantly, it is about opportunities. You can't do ENT research if there is a tiny ENT research presence at your medical school. You can't work with XYZ if you don't go to the medical school that they are at. Do not get me wrong. A far bigger issue these days is medical students squandering opportunities, rather than them not existing. But, be aware that if you are looking to go to a competitive specialty or a competitive program in a less competitive specialty, you want as many opportunities as you can get.

Academics - *deep breath* - You are who you are. Where you go to school will have little impact on your board scores. Yes, your pre-clinical curriculum matters, but if you are a good student, you will do well on your boards regardless of where you go. You may need to structure your own study time a little better, cover things that weren't covered as well at your school etc. But, for the most part, your board scores are reflective of YOU as a student, NOT your school. What is on the tests is no secret. The kinds of questions they ask are not a secret. There are quite literally, thousands of high quality practice problems out there. There are two things that matter more. Clinical exposure and the quality of co-students. Your clinical education is INCREDIBLY important and as most medical students will tell you, highly variable even within a single institution. To get an idea of the quality of clinical curriculum, you have to talk to students, as many as you can. And in the end, you will NOT have a perfect picture. Nobody can encapsulate all the experiences at a given school. I think one of the hardest things to figure out with medical students is who is happy because their rotation is light and who is happy because they are in a position to learn a ton. Which leads into the other important aspect of academics: Who are your classmates? You will learn from your classmates. Not just academically, but about any number of other things inside and outside of the hospital. Being around serious students is important as much as I don't like sheep, it is a lot easier to work your ass off constantly if everyone around you is also doing it. This is the only thing that those 'rankings' give some idea of. Higher average GPA/MCAT means higher academic prowess, nothing more, nothing less.


If you take away nothing else from this, remember, this is incomplete. I implore you, use those rankings as a list of schools to look into, nothing more. Do your research. Talk to people actually at those schools, or look at the school threads here on SDN. And, think about other things besides academics when ranking things for yourself.
 

Osteoth

Fake it till ya' make it
7+ Year Member
Feb 12, 2012
1,420
1,066
East coast
Status
Medical Student
Mimelim's guide to picking the best medical school

Let us get somethings out of the way first. You can take these as fact:

#1 There is no one best medical school.
#2 There are better schools than others.
#3 Every applicant has different wants/needs and what is best for you may not be the best for other people.
#4 For every applicant, there may be one 'best' school, but there are dozens of schools that they would do well at.
#5 No matter how much time and energy you put into this, you will be naive and never get a 'perfect' answer. And that is okay!

Your only goal is to find the best medical school for you. The secret to this is that nobody, not your pre-med advisers, your friends, your family, faculty nor SDN can tell you the answer to this. The primary reason for this is that everyone is private about certain things. You don't share all your wants/desires/goals with the entire world. There are things that matter to us that we don't necessarily want the world to know. Also, the vast majority of things are continuous variables and are incredibly difficult to fully communicate to other people to help them do the computation with/for you. To solve this question, first you need to define the variables. The following are the major variables in no particular order.

a) Academics
b) Finances
c) Proximity to family
d) Proximity to significant other
e) Research opportunities
f) Clinical opportunities

Do not underestimate the importance of all of these. I will skip academics until the end since that is the easiest to see the need for, but hardest to really integrate.

Finances - Medical school is expensive. You can google for your own stats of the week. It is not uncommon for people to have 200k+ in debt. You will be working as a resident/fellow for 45-60k per year for somewhere between 3-9 years after you graduate. You will likely be in or closing in on your 30s at that point. That is a big hole to start one's career off in. As a physician in the US, you will not starve. You will be comfortable. You will make more than the vast vast majority of Americans. But, good financial prudence EARLY goes a long way. Never mind specific goals. Being financially savvy early will give you flexibility later.

Proximity to family/SO - Medical school is hard. The biggest problem is that it isn't just academically hard. It is hard from a personal standpoint. You will be working hard, all the time. This takes a toll on relationships. But, more than that, people do better when they have a strong support system. You don't HAVE to have people around. But, you will be a better doctor if you are happy. Part of that, for most people, is being around the people that they love.

Research/clinical opportunities - You can go into any specialty from any medical school. Yes, you can. But, realize that it IS harder coming from different schools. Part of it is prestige. However, I would argue far more importantly, it is about opportunities. You can't do ENT research if there is a tiny ENT research presence at your medical school. You can't work with XYZ if you don't go to the medical school that they are at. Do not get me wrong. A far bigger issue these days is medical students squandering opportunities, rather than them not existing. But, be aware that if you are looking to go to a competitive specialty or a competitive program in a less competitive specialty, you want as many opportunities as you can get.

Academics - *deep breath* - You are who you are. Where you go to school will have little impact on your board scores. Yes, your pre-clinical curriculum matters, but if you are a good student, you will do well on your boards regardless of where you go. You may need to structure your own study time a little better, cover things that weren't covered as well at your school etc. But, for the most part, your board scores are reflective of YOU as a student, NOT your school. What is on the tests is no secret. The kinds of questions they ask are not a secret. There are quite literally, thousands of high quality practice problems out there. There are two things that matter more. Clinical exposure and the quality of co-students. Your clinical education is INCREDIBLY important and as most medical students will tell you, highly variable even within a single institution. To get an idea of the quality of clinical curriculum, you have to talk to students, as many as you can. And in the end, you will NOT have a perfect picture. Nobody can encapsulate all the experiences at a given school. I think one of the hardest things to figure out with medical students is who is happy because their rotation is light and who is happy because they are in a position to learn a ton. Which leads into the other important aspect of academics: Who are your classmates? You will learn from your classmates. Not just academically, but about any number of other things inside and outside of the hospital. Being around serious students is important as much as I don't like sheep, it is a lot easier to work your ass off constantly if everyone around you is also doing it. This is the only thing that those 'rankings' give some idea of. Higher average GPA/MCAT means higher academic prowess, nothing more, nothing less.


If you take away nothing else from this, remember, this is incomplete. I implore you, use those rankings as a list of schools to look into, nothing more. Do your research. Talk to people actually at those schools, or look at the school threads here on SDN. And, think about other things besides academics when ranking things for yourself.
So whats more important, academics/opportunities or finances?

Assuming no outside wealth.
 
Jun 19, 2013
51
17
Status
Resident [Any Field]
So whats more important, academics/opportunities or finances?

Assuming no outside wealth.
Personally for me it was finances. I went to what would be considered a low tier public school. It was my in-state school and I scored high on the MCAT (39). They gave me a full tuition plus 7000 per year, and that sold me. I scored well on my boards and now have interviews at some of the top residencies for EM that I have applied to. It is more about how you score on grades and boards than what school you go to. Also, in the end it will be where you go to residency or fellowship that matters depending on what you want to do.
 
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