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Is Anyone Passing Up a Highly Ranked School for Location?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by liger, Dec 20, 2005.

  1. liger

    liger Senior Member
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    So...I've been lucky enough to get into a top 15 school and a few others. I am also waiting to hear from a few top 10 schools. Originally I was just going to go to the best school that I got into, but now I am thinking more about how important it is for me to be around my family, etc. and am thinking about choosing my school based on location rather than ranking. i really liked the school that is in my hometown (not my state school) but it is ranked in the 40s and I don't want to screw myself for residencies or regret picking a less highly ranked school if that is going to hurt me in the long run. anyone have a similar story that they want to share or is anyone having a similar dilemma? thanks and good luck.
     
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  3. zer0el

    zer0el Sports Junkie
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    That was my exact situation when I applied. Although none are top 10 schools, I got into Pitt, Case, and Northwestern but ultimately chose USC. My family resides in LA and that's where I grew up (although I went to college on the east coast). I'm now an M2 and very happy with the choice I made. Since all of the schools I were considering were private, cost was not an issue (I was going to be broke no matter how I looked at it). I wanted to stay in CA for residency and was told that going to a CA school would allow me to establish connections. I'm a west coast guy at heart, and being surrounded by family and friends (not to mention awesome weather) has made med school more enjoyable.

    With that being said, I guarantee you that going to a top 10 school, and especially Harvard, Hopkins, and UCSF, will give you a significant advantage when you apply for residency. You don't need to take my word for it, just look at their match lists. It is true that if you do well in school (AOA, 240+, Honors) then the prestige of your med school matters less. However, those that are in the bottom half of their class at a top 10 school have it easier than a comparable group at a state school.
     
  4. BaylorGuy

    BaylorGuy Enter witty comment here
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    true true....a top 10 school will probably give you an edge in residencies, but aside from that i suggest going for location.

    Check out the allo forum...they have a thread about teh most important factors when choosing a med school going on.
     
  5. US News and World Reports rankings are over-rated. So long as the school you are considering has a good reputation, it matters more that you do well than which specific school it is. Go wherever will make you the happiest.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I go to the top rated school that I got into, but it is also the best location.
     
  6. unfrozencaveman

    unfrozencaveman not a dude
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    Welcome to my world. What to do.....
     
  7. Messerschmitts

    Messerschmitts Mythic Dawn acolyte
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    I'll do anything to go to a school in California...ANYTHING. :p Even Loma Linda! Wait...let me rethink that, actually. If I had the choice in real life I'd totally take any UC over any Ivy, with the possible exception of HMS.
     
  8. MrBurns10

    MrBurns10 Excellent, Smithers
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    freezing cold, grey winter and a high ranking VS warm, sunny weather and beaches and less prestige

    Let the battle begin. Or resume.
     
  9. QuantumMechanic

    QuantumMechanic Avatar=One of the Greats
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    prestige is only good to a certain point, especially if you are willing to put forth the effort to distinguish yourself amongst a large group of other bright individuals trying to do the same. that being said, the match lists at top 10-20 schools are incredible which demonstrates that: 1. the students there are awesome and 2. that the school gives one a political advantage in obtaining quality residencies. I would ask myself if location is essential (palm trees and blue skies at stanford or ucla vs. snow and clouds at hopkins or harvard). However, I think that since prestige works only to a certain point, you must choose your school on other factors trying to find the optimal match: best location for you with the best prestige. Thus, if one wanted pleasant yearround weather at one of the best schools an obvious first choice would be stanford or ucla. Despite being lower ranked that hopkins or harvard, the difference in opportunities in these places is probably minimal at most (unless you really want to work in Dr. X's lab at Harvard). I'm going to make the choice based on what makes me happy, not on what I think will make others more jealous of me. -qm
     
  10. mdung

    mdung Member
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    when u say top 15 schools---i assume this is the ranking from us news. but us news has two lists. the reserach one and the primary care one. which list
    are u suppose to look at for residency? or does it not matter? b/c know OHSU is like 3rd in primary care but like 30 something in research. does it matter? or does it depend on what u wnat to do? like go for the top schools in the primary care list if u want to do primary care related work in the future?

    im just a little confused over this business. any input?


     
  11. Zoom-Zoom

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    Yeah it's kind of weird. IMO, those rankings are best used to give you a general idea of where they stand and their reputation. In general, though, people use the research rankings when they talk about top 10 and so on. In fact, people pretty much ignore the prim care rankings as far as I can tell.
     
  12. 45408

    45408 aw buddy
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    well, my top choice is the mostly highly ranked school out of the ones I interviewed at, but I'd pass up #25 for a school that wanders in and out of the top 50 (not in it this year but was in it last year), based largely on location.
     
  13. gary5

    gary5 Senior Member
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    It's important to create your own criteria for selecting schools, and being near family is a completely legitimate criterion. Include that in a list and rank them. Perhaps some schools are worth moving for and others aren't.
     
  14. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    Forget rankings. They are heavily weighted toward research funding and that is not why you are going to med school.

    Look at why you are going to med school. Classrooms & lab facilities, teaching methods, grading policy, mentoring, clinical rotations, good preparation for boards, nice people and an environment where you will thrive. Having a social support network of family/friends nearby is a big plus as is the opportunity to do rotations at facilities where you might someday want to practice. Does the location make it very inconvenient to pursue leisure time activities that you enjoy?
     
  15. unfrozencaveman

    unfrozencaveman not a dude
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    I still find this so hard to believe (and believe you me, I WANT to believe it). I mean, part of the reason of going to medical school is to build a career (er, isn't that THE reason?). And part of that is getting a good residency. How could rankings just not matter?
     
  16. Em1

    Em1 Senior Member
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    It's not that they don't matter, they just shouldn't be as big of a deal when choosing a med school. I agree w/LizzyM- look at the curriculum, students, etc. Ignoring the rankings, how much did you like the school when you interviewed? You're probably better off going to a school you love where you can thrive as opposed to a top ten school that you'll hate.
     
  17. DropkickMurphy

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    Yes, they could just not matter that much. Given that the lists are explicity "primary care" and "research" based, and that the latter is so heavily skewed on the basis of funding, using that to pick where to go if you want to specialize is kind of like saying, "I am looking for a really good car with great gas mileage. According to this article, the Mercedes has a great sound system, and it's got such a great reputation therefore it must get good gas mileage."

    Personally I would take Lizzy's advice and look at the quality of life rather than match lists and rankings. Remember that when it really comes down to it that it's YOUR performance, not the school that will get you into (or keep you out of) the residency you want.
     
  18. Orthodoc40

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    :thumbup: I couldn't agree more!
     
  19. Doko

    Doko holla atcha boy!
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    To the OP -

    Why don't you tell us which schools you are talking about, and we can give you more specific advice! :)
     
  20. unfrozencaveman

    unfrozencaveman not a dude
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    I'm talking about Pitt and Miami, if people want to get involved...
     
  21. WholeLottaGame7

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    I'm a little skeptical of the value of match lists. If Yale has a much better match list than say, ECU, is it because the school is better, or because they accept much better students to start off with?

    To determine the effects of prestige and name recognition, you'd have to take 1 truly identical candidate from each school and compare them, and obviously that's impossible.
     
  22. DrRads101

    DrRads101 Senior Member
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    Rankings don't matter people. Only pre-meds care about rankings. And to be absolutely real, the only "rankings" are US News which is not an authority on medical education. If another magazine or well respected newspaper came out with another "ranking" where would that leave US News?

    You'll care less once you get into medical school and you realize everyone, no matter where they go, makes the same amount of money. This isn't law school.
     
  23. DrRads101

    DrRads101 Senior Member
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    This is absolutely true. The best thing to look at is percent of people that get one of their Top 3 choices, since as you all know since you are all smart, people that graduate from let's say, University of Iowa, aren't applying in droves to places on the East Coast, so you can't knock them if not many of them are going to Mass General for Neurosurgery.
     
  24. Gut Shot

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    Oh for crying out loud, stay in Miami. I'm sorry, but both of those schools fall into that huge, nebulous reputation divide that separates Harvard, Hopkins and WashU from Hollwood Upstairs Medical School.
     
  25. unfrozencaveman

    unfrozencaveman not a dude
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    Well, premeds also like to say that it doesnt matter where you go to undergrad either on here (and PLEASE, let's not get into that), and you could just debate all day about it.

    It's definitely not the same thing as law or business school for sure, but how could "identical" candidates from a top 10 and a top 60 (or whatever), even be considered identical?

    If someone could definitively just tell me that one gets no advantage one place over the other, I would sleep a lot better. But I doubt it can be done.
     
  26. unfrozencaveman

    unfrozencaveman not a dude
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    Yeah that's what I figure too, for crying out loud. But I'm sure other people have far cooler decisions to make than that. Which is probably why other people started this thread.

    I mean, isn't that the OP's (and my) problem, for crying out loud? If it were Harvard vs Hollywood, you think there would be a debate?

    For crying out loud Havarti.
     
  27. liger

    liger Senior Member
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    i'm specifically talking about g'town and pitt and am waiting to hear from a couple of top ten schools but i prob won't get into those and if i do, i'm not sure what i'd do. i loved both g'town and pitt but i'm from the dc area and all of my siblings live here and other family too. i am not really a researchy person so i don't know if that figures into all of this or not. what do you all think?
     
  28. QuantumMechanic

    QuantumMechanic Avatar=One of the Greats
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    Pitt is definitely heavier into research than Georgetown. That plus your dc connection probably makes gtown a smarter choice for you
     
  29. banana

    banana Member
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    I guess I am also facing a similar dilemma. Right now it is between UMich and Pritzker and I have no idea what to do. I have also heard that if you ultimately want to end up in a certain area then being in that area for medical school is good in terms of making connections for residency, etc. Im starting to lead towards the whole "rankings dont matter" mindset because I too am not that interested in research. As far as undergrad, these rankings move around alot (im assuming the same for medical schools but could be wrong) so by the time your four years are up, the higher ranked school could have fallen a few places and the lower ranked increased their ranking.
     
  30. CerealBox

    CerealBox Senior Member
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    you can't go wrong with UMich or Pritzker. Both match people into top top residency programs. I know Pritzker has a great reputation with the residency director of the program i work at. He said he has never seen a bad Pritzker graduate, they have all been top residents.

    anyway. you have a win-win situation.
     
  31. stratom

    stratom Junior Member
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    I'm interested in what people have to say about this one.

    Ivy or Hawaii?
     
  32. DropkickMurphy

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    Hawaii. Hands down.
     
  33. 45408

    45408 aw buddy
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    at this point, my decisions are based on the fact that I don't want to leave my home state (well, across the border is okay), I want to live in a big city, I want to like the hospital that I'm spending two years at, and I'd like to feel like it's a place I can thrive at. Good students will remain good students regardless of where they go.
     
  34. 45408

    45408 aw buddy
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    I can't imagine that either school would actually decrease your residency options. Which one would you rather spend four years at? Which people made you feel more comfortable? What did you think of the hospitals? Does the curriculum fit your lifestyle? I know I'd rather have more independent study time than constant lectures, and I'd rather have exams be spaced out a bit more. How much does it cost to live at either school? Do you have family or a SO to consider?
     
  35. aumed22

    aumed22 Senior Member
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    Here's a question for you guys. I'm currently in the South, and have been for quite some time now. It's a great place to live and I have a pretty serious girlfriend down here. Now, would you go to Emory and stay in the South near the girlfriend, or would you go to Hopkins and just do the long-distance relationship thing for a while? Any and all opinions are appreciated.
     
  36. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    Let me go back to my original list with some modifications: Look at the differences between the two schools (go back for second look weekend if you need to): classroom & teaching labs, hospital facilities, mentoring, grading policies, student friendliness/happiness, housing, cost of living, clinical facilities, available leisure time activities, social support network.

    Pinning everything on a girlfirend is tricky. If things don't work out, you may be stuck at a school that you chose for a reason that no longer exists (the relationship).
     
  37. Kleintje

    Kleintje Why not?
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    I agree.

    A few comments on long distance relationships: they are very difficult. It is hard to explain if you have not been in one, but it is more than just being apart. You both start to have seperate lives and the phone conversations get shorter and shorter - b/c you will be so busy in med school and b/c the other person will be wrapped up in their own lives. You might think, it wont happen to us, and it might not. But they are hard. You both grow and change as people, you just don't do it together. So when you do finally see each other again, it is almost like meeting that other person for the first time again. I have been in one for a year and 1/2 - and sometimes we're great and sometimes it is a battle. It will definately test your relationship.

    Personally, I do not like to have regrets and I could not justify, at this point in my life, giving up the opportunity to go to the best medical school for me to live in a city closer to him. Talk to your SO and really think about what you want. Good luck!
     
  38. Gut Shot

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    For fcking the cat, no, but I was having visions of UCLA, Yale, Baylor or Cornell vs. ECU, Texas Tech or North Dakota. When push comes to shove, a lot of people just cannot bring themselves to leave home and family.
     
  39. DrRads101

    DrRads101 Senior Member
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    Let me just warn you that the percentage of medical school students that stay with their college girlfriend/boyfriend are about as low as the percentage of college students that stay with their high school girlfriend/boyfriend. Just keep that in mind. Unless you are engaged, you will almost certainly break up from my experience of looking at the people around me after 2 years of medical school. Most broke up with their serious college relationship within months of starting, and after two years, literally the ONLY ones I know that are still together are those that were engaged when they started school.
     
  40. DrRads101

    DrRads101 Senior Member
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    Exactly, hence why premeds don't have a clue (yet). Undergrad DOES matter for getting into medical school, there is no way around it. My school (Northwestern) only interviews candidates from presitigious schools--they send out the interview list every tuesday and friday, and there is never anyone from what is considered "not so great" schools. Like it or not, I would have NEVER have gotten into Northwestern or UMich or Duke if I would have went to Florida State--I absolutely gaurantee you (I use FSU as an example because I almost went there for college), because not once in the two years I've been here has Feinberg interviewed a single applicant from FSU (or other equally ranked colleges more near Chicago).

    Well, for one thing, they are both 100% Doctors so they are both completely identical in their qualifications, which is all that matters. And for that matter, DO's are equally "Doctors" so you better get over this idea that US News is somehow this huge deal in medicine real quick since you will be working side by side, and underneath, DO's and people that went to medical school's you may have never heard of, and it would really be a shame if you looked at them as less educated because you still have a subjective list some magazine which isn't even tied to medicine fried into your brain. Don't let some list become life and reality especially with a profession where we are all in it together, which is the truth.

    Beyond that, they will both make the same amount of money since where you went to medical school is in no way tied to income like in business or law, so I'm not sure what more you want.
     
  41. unfrozencaveman

    unfrozencaveman not a dude
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    Yeah, I think you kind of missed the point. Trust me, it's not ME who gives a crap about where I go to medical school. I will most likely pass up a higher ranked school for a lower one, for my own happiness. The point is, I'm not going to medical school for the nice weather. If there is a game to be played (in terms of getting a good residency- which I'm not considering as a means to make more money, just in having a good deal of flexibility and some choices), I need to play it. If I'm going to lessen my chances of a successful career by choosing schools because of the weather, I'm obviously not going to do it.

    I agree completely that with medicine, the rankings just shouldnt matter that much, and I see that in some ways, like the ways you list, they dont. But that doesnt mean residency directors see it the way I do.
     
  42. ramblinwreckie

    ramblinwreckie Senior Member
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    I had a scarily similar dilemma last year (Emory vs. Duke/Hopkins). I went to school in Atl, had a SO also in Atl, and was always deadset on Emory through undergrad. When it came down to it and I actually got to know Emory, I just knew it wasn't a wise choice for me. I also knew that we weren't like most couples and we could do a long distance relationship.

    Others will tell you to go by the numbers and your relationship won't work out, but only you can judge that fairly.
     
  43. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    I am so sick of seeing this BS posted all over the place like the gospel that it makes me want to :barf: I don't know much about Northwestern and I didn't apply there, so I'll concede that you may be right with respect to that one school. But you are NOT right in general that students who attended state schools are not competitive to get into the top ranked medical schools. It may seem that way sometimes because there are proportionally many more good students coming out of top-ranked colleges than there are coming out of large state schools like FSU that take just about everyone who applies. But the top students at state schools DO get accepted to the top medical schools.
     
  44. ramblinwreckie

    ramblinwreckie Senior Member
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    that's northwestern. they're, how do you put this politely, unique. there are 4 people in my class from FSU and UF.
     
  45. Jon Davis

    Jon Davis I killed the bank.
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    ............booyaah.
     
  46. unfrozencaveman

    unfrozencaveman not a dude
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    Yeah, I think it's crap too- what I meant by opening that can of worms was, I think you'll have people on both sides of the fence on the residency argument as well, who cannot, and will not see eye to eye. And so, this thread will devolve into not being helpful for anyone, and me being accused of looking down my nose at DOs (??) :(
     
  47. DrRads101

    DrRads101 Senior Member
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    There are actually quite a few students at Northwestern from UF, and they probably interview one person from UF every week as we all get the emails and I see University of Florida all of the time.

    I don't know how "unique" Northwestern is in this process. I assume since you are in Durham you go to Duke Med? Well at Duke it was the same way when I was interviewing, in that I was sitting next to people from Harvard, Princeton, Yale, University of Virginia, Berkeley, etc. I felt kind of pathetic with my little ole degree from UNC, though it is a well respected school. And don't tell me that anything BUT a ton of people from places like UNC-Charlotte, ECU and NC State apply to Duke Med, and I'm curious what percent of your class went to ECU for undergrad? Do you see what I'm getting at here? It's not necessarily state school versus Ivy, but don't try and act like medical schools "don't care" where you went to undergrad, or that Duke looks past the diploma.
     
  48. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    Out of curiosity, in your experience, do most applicants from top tier schools also have scores of 33+? Because there must be at least SOME students who score in the 20s on the MCAT even though they went to Ivy or other top undergrads. How much does the big name of their undergrad institution help them if they're below the mean MCAT and GPAs of the top schools?
     
  49. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    I don't recall ever seeing an Ivy (or comparable) applicant with a MCAT <28. It is not to say that they do not exist, but they may be smart enough not to waste their resources applying to a top tier med school.

    It could also be that those get weeded out before they reach me (some <3.0, <25 appies get rejected on that basis without having a couple of people spend 40+minutes reading the appie).

    It is possible to see, for example a 7 12 10 from an Ivy, most often an applicant who moved to the US as a teen, did ESL in high school, etc. Often highly motivated, good research & extracurricular experiences. Gets an interview to see if skills in spoken English and understanding of American cultural norms (eye contact, etc) are up to par. An "under" in verbal coupled with an "over" in one science and a just barely under in the other science score is usually okay, particularly if the student is an immigrant with a good command of spoken and written English.
     
  50. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
    Administrator Physician PhD Faculty Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

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    That makes sense. It's probably a combination of everything you mentioned.

    BTW, it is true that the state school students I spoke of earlier who have interviewed at or been accepted to top-twenty medical schools did have excellent MCAT scores (top 10%) and ECs. Most of my students do not score 33+ on the MCAT, but the few who do score that highly do fine, although some have said they are kind of intimidated about interviewing with a bunch of kids from Ivy schools. ;)
     
  51. Art

    Art Junior Member
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    If your major issue is your ability to get into the residency program that you want you should look at the USNEWS residency directors ranking. These are data derived from surveys sent out to residency directors across the country where they are asked to rank medical schools. Residency directors are the ones who select you for their training and USNEWS is a systematic query of this group. One can argue about the validity of how much weight is placed on different factors for the overall ranking, but the residency directors' ranking is fairly close to straight data. This also is better than ancedotal stories such as "I heard School X does not have a good reputation."

    USNEWS no longer lists what percent of students get into their top 3 ranked residency, so that information is no longer available.

    The residency directors ranking in the research category has Pitt at a 4.0 and Miami at a 3.2. 5 is the best and Harvard and Hopkins both have a 4.8.

    In the primary care rankings, Pitt is a 3.5, Miami is not ranked. U of Washington has the highest score at 4.3
     

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