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Is your Med School THAT important???

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davedavedave

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How much of a difference in your life would it make to go to a highly ranked but not top 10 med school (like pitt, emory, northwestern, u rochester...) instead of a top 10 as far as residency is concerned? basically, how much of a factor is lifestyle/student life in considering a school?

Side question: georgetown did not even make the top50 usnews list, i suppose because they arent very strong in research... does good research school automatically equal good medical school and visaversa?
 

exmike

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Originally posted by davedavedave
How much of a difference in your life would it make to go to a highly ranked but not top 10 med school (like pitt, emory, northwestern, u rochester...) instead of a top 10 as far as residency is concerned? basically, how much of a factor is lifestyle/student life in considering a school?

Side question: georgetown did not even make the top50 usnews list, i suppose because they arent very strong in research... does good research school automatically equal good medical school and visaversa?

these topics have been beaten to death, you can do a search.

in short, rankings are abitrary so dont go by those too much.

beyond the top few schools, reputation matters less and less. things to consider are how well you do on the boards, affiliations of the med school (schools tend to take residents from their own school), and how good the clinical training is (enhances your chances during the match).
 

cornell2004

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to me, residency match lists are the most important. I could care less what school i go to as long as i have a good shot at the specialty that I want. If you look at a school like downstate, it doesnt have the highest rankings, but had one of the best matches I've seen.
 

exmike

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Originally posted by cornell2004
to me, residency match lists are the most important. I could care less what school i go to as long as i have a good shot at the specialty that I want. If you look at a school like downstate, it doesnt have the highest rankings, but had one of the best matches I've seen.

match lists are a little misleading because you have to also consider the caliber of residency program. For exampe ophtho at podunk community hospital is not the same as ophtho at Johns Hopkins Wilmer, so remember to consider that.
 

Gleevec

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evaluating residency match lists is so imprecise that it is only marginally useful. for the most part, a lot of people consider matching to your own medical school's residency program "weak." however, what if people really liked their med school? what if people want to stay in a certain region? also a lot of people will look at the competitive specialties and count podunk u as awesome while an internal medicine match at JHU as nothing.

that said, reputation after the top 5 schools all the way to 20 probably isnt that big a deal. more likely, region will play a bigger role than national rank in that case.

so while rank might be important to a certain degree, once youre at a particular level it matters quite little, and thats when things like board scores, letters, AOA, research, etc comes into play
 

meanderson

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-I really think "top 10" doesn't tell the whole story. The JH and Harvard match lists year in and year out are just incredible. These students not only match in whatever fields they want, they also match where they want. Many students from other "top 10" schools would just be happy to match ent, uro, opthalmology, ortho, etc at a solid university program. JH and Harvard students match these specialties at top 10 programs. And if they decide to do IM, it's almost always at MGH, Hopkins, UCSF, or maybe stanford. The notion of top 10, top 20, top 5, etc is probably talked about too much, but there is a clear difference between the match list of Hopkins and Harvard versus other schools ranked #3-10. Schools like Umich and Columbia have great match lists, but they aren't on par with JH.

-In my opinion, the big thing with schools like Emory, Northwestern, Chicago, Pittsburgh isn't so much the overall match list, but the preferance given to their own students. Emory had over 40% of its class last year match at emory. Many of those matches were rads, urology, derm, opthalmology, etc. If you wanted to do your residency at Emory(and especially if you wanted IM), you'd have a really great shot to get it from emory school of medicine. I'm not saying you can't do a residency at Grady having gone to a state school, but I think it would be a safer bet coming from emory. I can't speak for other schools ranked #10-25, but Emory didn't have that many "oh my god" matches. Out of 105 or so matches, I counted 26 that were really really special(~25%). At JH and Harvard the numbers are closer to 90%. I'm not sure what the numbers at schools like Duke and Penn are(55-60%?)

IMO(as far as matching goes),

JH/Harvard >>>>> schools #3-11 >>> schools #12-25 > state schools and mid/lower tier privates

Once you get past #25 or so, I don't think there is any advantage. Assuming equal credentials, I don't think a student matching from GW would be in a better position that a student matching from Texas Tech....unless of course it was either the GW or TT programs the applicants were shooting for.
 

Super Rob

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I hear what you're saying. I'm curious to see if there are any exceptions.

How about schools like NYU, Mount Sinai, Einstein, and Dartmouth?

These guys aren't in the top twenty-five but they are certainly recognizable as frequently discussed on these forums. I plead ignorance in that I cannot interpret match results as being either good or bad (not sure who is good for what specialty), but I was under the assumption that schools like Dartmouth prepare their students just as well as ones that are ranked higher and that match results are similar.

Maybe that's just cuz Dartmouth is "Ivy," not far from where I live, and has a tremendous undergrad reputation. Could just be my geographically skewed perception. Again, there are posts here about people willing to give up body parts to get into Dartmouth and on interview day, I met some folks from all parts of the country.

If you were from North Carolina and got into Chapel Hill (ranked a lot higher than Dartmouth but not a med school people in the north east hear a lot about) would there be any advantage of going to a "name school" like the ones I have mentioned, even if they are ranked a lot further down the list?
 

meanderson

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super rob,

I really couldn't see any advantage in going to Dartmouth over UNC FOR north carolina residents. At southeastern programs UNC's rep is better than Dartmouth's. Perhaps in the northeast people would be more familar with dartmouth residents. All in all, I think a person from dartmouth and UNC would have similar opportunities. But even if you wanted to match in the northeast later on, I don't think the possible advantage in familiarity with dartmouth grads could make up for the great in state tuition at UNC for NC residents.
 

TheFlash

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The residency/peer ratings are the only things that US News is good for. The parlay how your school is viewed by other medical professionals, including residency directors across the country. The actual rankings are crap. I have no respect for those who choose to go to a school based primarily on US News rankings... it's not going to make your penis any bigger, mmmkay?
 

highclass

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Originally posted by TheFlash
The residency/peer ratings are the only things that US News is good for. The parlay how your school is viewed by other medical professionals, including residency directors across the country. The actual rankings are crap. I have no respect for those who choose to go to a school based primarily on US News rankings... it's not going to make your penis any bigger, mmmkay?

Im feeling you on this one Flash
 

Gleevec

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Originally posted by TheFlash
The residency/peer ratings are the only things that US News is good for. The parlay how your school is viewed by other medical professionals, including residency directors across the country. The actual rankings are crap. I have no respect for those who choose to go to a school based primarily on US News rankings... it's not going to make your penis any bigger, mmmkay?

Actually the residency/peer rankings are crap too, perhaps moreso than the other factors, because they are completely subjective.

Also, think about it this way. If youre medical school is REALLY good and you want to do residency there, and you put that as your first match choice, arent you going to stay there? And in that case, you wont be going to other schools for residency, and they wont be hearing about your school (except for research or whatnot). Basically, its a popularity contest moreso than the numbers game the rest of the rankings are, and its a contest that is played unequally throughout the country. The better your school is at keeping med students around for residency, the lower your residency/peer score will be.
 

TheFlash

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Originally posted by Gleevec
Actually the residency/peer rankings are crap too, perhaps moreso than the other factors, because they are completely subjective.

Also, think about it this way. If youre medical school is REALLY good and you want to do residency there, and you put that as your first match choice, arent you going to stay there? And in that case, you wont be going to other schools for residency, and they wont be hearing about your school (except for research or whatnot). Basically, its a popularity contest moreso than the numbers game the rest of the rankings are, and its a contest that is played unequally throughout the country. The better your school is at keeping med students around for residency, the lower your residency/peer score will be.

Yes, they are subjective, but that's the whole point. Getting into a residency program is a subjective process. How residency directors view your medical institution, then, is a component of your overall application. Sure there are other more important factors involved like your grades on rotations and board scores, but that's irrelevant because we're only talking about what US News measures here. As for "the better your school is at keeping med students around for residency, the lower your residency/peer score will be," how do you explain Harvard topping the ratings when half their kids are matching into MGH, etc.?
 

VCMM414

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Originally posted by meanderson

IMO(as far as matching goes),

JH/Harvard >>>>> schools #3-11 >>> schools #12-25 > state schools and mid/lower tier privates

That's pretty accurate I think, but I think 3-11 is more like 3-7. After having compared quite a few of them, matchlists from schools currently ranked after Columbia/UCSF (from ~Stanford/UMich/Yale to ~CWRU/NU/Pritzker) simply don't differ as much as one might initially expect.

Also, Harvard/JHU don't seem to beat #3-7 by THHHHHHAT much, probably not much more than the difference between Penn etc. and the likes of CWRU/UCSD. Match lists of "the next 5" are also very formidable and IMHO only slightly less illustrious than Harvard/JHU's.

I think it's more like this:
Harvard/JHU >> WashU/Duke/Penn/Columbia/UCSF (these 5 ONLY) > schools #8-~25 > the rest.

Remember, compared to other professional schools, medical schools are relatively consistent in quality from top to bottom.
 

Tezzie

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I agree with VCM. The match lists do seem to go like :

Harvard/Hopkins
*small difference*
UCSF/WashU/Duke/Penn/Columbia
*small difference*
n.8 through 11
*some difference*
n.12 through n.25

The thing that i find interesting in this process is how many people are quick to judge a school by how impressive their match list is. I think that as a method it's wrong. We never know how many students actually match at where they want to or how many of them weren't discouraged by their schools to not go after a competitive residency. Also not all top students want to go after derm or ent. There are a lot of students who are going to be phenomenal and still go after IM or Peds. The only thing that we can compare between match lists is which specialties students chose and where they ended up. I am not so sure that the difference between the Harvard matchlist and the Vandy one is because of the school prestige.

Anyway all of the above just my opinion so grain of salt :p
 

Tezzie

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A little follow up.

Although Harvard seems to hold the throne as far as competitive residencies go, doesn't anyone else find it interesting that they match so many people in lifestyle residencies? Does too much prestige end up being negative in the end?
 

Harps

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Originally posted by davedavedave
How much of a difference in your life would it make to go to a highly ranked but not top 10 med school (like pitt, emory, northwestern, u rochester...) instead of a top 10 as far as residency is concerned? basically, how much of a factor is lifestyle/student life in considering a school?

Side question: georgetown did not even make the top50 usnews list, i suppose because they arent very strong in research... does good research school automatically equal good medical school and visaversa?

One of my lab-mates was browsing the MGH radiology residents list and came across 2 or 3 students from UCI, Indiana Univ., and other schools many consider (usually in accordance with US News) not as prestigious. In the end, it's really up to the person. That's how it was for undergrad. and it'll be the same for med.

-Harps
 

Gleevec

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Originally posted by TheFlash
Yes, they are subjective, but that's the whole point. Getting into a residency program is a subjective process. How residency directors view your medical institution, then, is a component of your overall application. Sure there are other more important factors involved like your grades on rotations and board scores, but that's irrelevant because we're only talking about what US News measures here. As for "the better your school is at keeping med students around for residency, the lower your residency/peer score will be," how do you explain Harvard topping the ratings when half their kids are matching into MGH, etc.?

Well yeah theyre subjective, but Im saying they are also misleading, because the way people evaluate match lists is often misleading.

And yeah, of course half of Harvard kids match to MGH because that is THEIR hospital. Their residency ranking is just because of name.

The thing is, the way the US News survey for residency directors works, it basically rewards schools that dont hold onto their students (for whatever reason).

http://www.usnews.com/usnews/edu/grad/rankings/about/04med_meth_brief.php

Also, if you look at the response rates, theyre not very high at all, 1/2 of peer and 1/3 of residency directors. Im not quite sure if there is a sampling bias, because they dont say if it was an even distribution of schools responding of what, so I dunno about that. Also, the survey is 2 years old.

So while reputation is an OK measurement, it is still has some major flaws, especially considering we dont know what types of schools responded.
 

elias514

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Who freakin knows if medical school reputation matters in residency placement. Some days I think that it does, others I think that institutional prestige is irrelevant to the Match. I've looked at match lists from approximately 30 different medical schools (a mix of highly ranked and unranked), and I've found that every school sends at least a few graduates to the most competitive residency programs in the most competitive specialties. Yet, highly ranked schools send a disproportionately high number of grads to such programs, which leads me to believe that prestige in fact translates into better residency placement. But then I think about what kind of students are accepted to these schools--highly motivated, outstanding students who happen to be great standardized test-takers. If residency placement is based mostly upon clerkship grades, Step 1 score, interview, and letters of recommendation, wouldn't these students rock the Match at ANY medical school? Who knows. Probably.

It seems like there is an infatuation with ranking in the U.S. today. Everything is ranked--colleges, high schools, cars, songs, celebrities, you name it. The truth of the matter is that some things probably shouldn't be ranked, because the rankings distort reality. Medical schools might fall into this category. I firmly believe that the United States has the best medical schools in the world and that acceptance to ANY medical school is an honor and a privilege. Patients don't give a crap where their doctors went to medical school, they only care about how their doctors treat them. Moreover, all medical graduates have to clear the rigorous licensing and certification requirements to practice medicine in the U.S.; thus, all doctors (in principle anyways) in a given specialty are roughly equal in competence after completion of their training. Finally, lest I forget, a doctor from Harvard med earns the same amount as a doctor from an "unranked" med school, even though the former probably has more educational debt. In sum, the more I think about the ranking of medical schools, the more I believe that the ranking is totally bogus.
 

Harps

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Originally posted by elias514
Who freakin knows if medical school reputation matters in residency placement. Some days I think that it does, others I think that institutional prestige is irrelevant to the Match. I've looked at match lists from approximately 30 different medical schools (a mix of highly ranked and unranked), and I've found that every school sends at least a few graduates to the most competitive residency programs in the most competitive specialties. Yet, highly ranked schools send a disproportionately high number of grads to such programs, which leads me to believe that prestige in fact translates into better residency placement. But then I think about what kind of students are accepted to these schools--highly motivated, outstanding students who happen to be great standardized test-takers. If residency placement is based mostly upon clerkship grades, Step 1 score, interview, and letters of recommendation, wouldn't these students rock the Match at ANY medical school? Who knows. Probably.

It seems like there is an infatuation with ranking in the U.S. today. Everything is ranked--colleges, high schools, cars, songs, celebrities, you name it. The truth of the matter is that some things probably shouldn't be ranked, because the rankings distort reality. Medical schools might fall into this category. I firmly believe that the United States has the best medical schools in the world and that acceptance to ANY medical school is an honor and a privilege. Patients don't give a crap where their doctors went to medical school, they only care about how their doctors treat them. Moreover, all medical graduates have to clear the rigorous licensing and certification requirements to practice medicine in the U.S.; thus, all doctors (in principle anyways) in a given specialty are roughly equal in competence after completion of their training. Finally, lest I forget, a doctor from Harvard med earns the same amount as a doctor from an "unranked" med school, even though the former probably has more educational debt. In sum, the more I think about the ranking of medical schools, the more I believe that the ranking is totally bogus.


Excellent post! Most people use US News for their ego. I said MOST.

-Harps
 

exmike

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Originally posted by elias514
Who freakin knows if medical school reputation matters in residency placement. Some days I think that it does, others I think that institutional prestige is irrelevant to the Match. I've looked at match lists from approximately 30 different medical schools (a mix of highly ranked and unranked), and I've found that every school sends at least a few graduates to the most competitive residency programs in the most competitive specialties. Yet, highly ranked schools send a disproportionately high number of grads to such programs, which leads me to believe that prestige in fact translates into better residency placement. But then I think about what kind of students are accepted to these schools--highly motivated, outstanding students who happen to be great standardized test-takers. If residency placement is based mostly upon clerkship grades, Step 1 score, interview, and letters of recommendation, wouldn't these students rock the Match at ANY medical school? Who knows. Probably.

It seems like there is an infatuation with ranking in the U.S. today. Everything is ranked--colleges, high schools, cars, songs, celebrities, you name it. The truth of the matter is that some things probably shouldn't be ranked, because the rankings distort reality. Medical schools might fall into this category. I firmly believe that the United States has the best medical schools in the world and that acceptance to ANY medical school is an honor and a privilege. Patients don't give a crap where their doctors went to medical school, they only care about how their doctors treat them. Moreover, all medical graduates have to clear the rigorous licensing and certification requirements to practice medicine in the U.S.; thus, all doctors (in principle anyways) in a given specialty are roughly equal in competence after completion of their training. Finally, lest I forget, a doctor from Harvard med earns the same amount as a doctor from an "unranked" med school, even though the former probably has more educational debt. In sum, the more I think about the ranking of medical schools, the more I believe that the ranking is totally bogus.

you're doing it backwards my friend. You need to look at top residency programs and see where their residents are from. I have done this for the top 10 or so ophthalmology programs and its amazing how large the proportion is that come from top 10 schools, even top 5 schools. It not a coincidence that most of them hail from hopkins, harvard, ucsf, stanford.. etc.

Seriously, getting a good residency is possible from any schools, i'd say almost the same across the board. To get into a highly desireable residency at a top program, reputation takes you a long way.
 

Gleevec

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Originally posted by exmike
you're doing it backwards my friend. You need to look at top residency programs and see where their residents are from. I have done this for the top 10 or so ophthalmology programs and its amazing how large the proportion is that come from top 10 schools, even top 5 schools. It not a coincidence that most of them hail from hopkins, harvard, ucsf, stanford.. etc.

Seriously, getting a good residency is possible from any schools, i'd say almost the same across the board. To get into a highly desireable residency at a top program, reputation takes you a long way.

where can i find where residents went to med school for specific residency programs in specific fields?
 

meanderson

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Originally posted by Gleevec
where can i find where residents went to med school for specific residency programs in specific fields?

Most of the time, a small amount of biographical information(med school/pgy year) for each resident is on the department's site.
 

meanderson

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Originally posted by Tezzie
I agree with VCM. The match lists do seem to go like :

Harvard/Hopkins
*small difference*
UCSF/WashU/Duke/Penn/Columbia
*small difference*
n.8 through 11
*some difference*
n.12 through n.25


The only thing I would disagree with is at the top. Just for kicks, I took a look at the Hopkins match list. It's mind-boggling. Not to to say that schools like Columbia and Penn don't have great match lists themselves, but JH/Harvard are really on another level alltogether. Literally 97% of the matches at these schools are as good as they can be. At other schools in the top 10, you see more "really good" matches. Maybe a few more students at Penn who wanted optho or ent had to do it at a solid program instead of a top 10 program.

I'd certainly agree with the differences between #8-11 and #12-25 though. Schools like Cornell and Baylor do appear to have a higher % of high profile matches than schools like Vandy, emory, Pitt. Maybe 45-50% vs. 25-30%.
 

elias514

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My argument still holds. Consider this: what proportion of students at unranked med schools (relative to highly ranked med schools) actually score above the 90th percentile on Step 1? I bet you that the majority of the students who score in the uppermost decile on Step 1 are med students at prestigious med schools. This is a very reasonable speculation, because after all, the people who get into "elite" medical schools typically are extraordinary standardized test-takers and truly outstanding students; hence the high MCAT and GPA averages at top med schools. Additionally, top medical schools tend to recruit students from top undergraduate institutions (take a look at the educational backgrounds of students at say WashU--a ridiculously high number of the students went to Duke, Harvard, Yale, etc.). How does one gain admission to an ultracompetitive undergraduate institution? Oh, that's right...high SAT scores and excellent grades in high school.

Also, if institutional prestige is so important in the Match, how do you explain the presence of individuals, who graduated from unranked med schools or institutions with mediocre rankings, at top-ten residency programs in the most competitive specialties? Are they just anomalies? Moreover, why is it that graduates of top medical schools sometimes match into mediocre residency programs? Are they just anomalies? And how do you explain the fact that Hopkins failed to produce any dermatology matches one year, in spite of the fact that several students tried to match into derm? Or what about the fact that WashU (a top-5 med school with a stellar reputation) failed to send any grads into plastic surgery this year, even though several students (all alpha omega alpha with research experience) tried to match into plastic surgery? Just an anomaly, right?

Hmmm...methinks that there's a reasonable conclusion based on this evidence: the Match is actually a merit-based system, where the best and the brightest get the prime spots. The fact that prestigious med schools typically have great match lists does not mean that prestige is an important factor in residency placement ; it just means that the students at these institutions have a disproportionately high number of overachievers, individuals who are freakishly good standardized test-takers.
 

exmike

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Originally posted by Gleevec
where can i find where residents went to med school for specific residency programs in specific fields?

it was painful, i want to each residency program page and looked at their resident list.
 

Gleevec

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Originally posted by exmike
it was painful, i want to each residency program page and looked at their resident list.

ah ok, thanks!
 

maswe12

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Originally posted by elias514
My argument still holds. Consider this: what proportion of students at unranked med schools (relative to highly ranked med schools) actually score above the 90th percentile on Step 1? I bet you that the majority of the students who score in the uppermost decile on Step 1 are med students at prestigious med schools. This is a very reasonable speculation, because after all, the people who get into "elite" medical schools typically are extraordinary standardized test-takers and truly outstanding students; hence the high MCAT and GPA averages at top med schools. Additionally, top medical schools tend to recruit students from top undergraduate institutions (take a look at the educational backgrounds of students at say WashU--a ridiculously high number of the students went to Duke, Harvard, Yale, etc.). How does one gain admission to an ultracompetitive undergraduate institution? Oh, that's right...high SAT scores and excellent grades in high school.

Also, if institutional prestige is so important in the Match, how do you explain the presence of individuals, who graduated from unranked med schools or institutions with mediocre rankings, at top-ten residency programs in the most competitive specialties? Are they just anomalies? Moreover, why is it that graduates of top medical schools sometimes match into mediocre residency programs? Are they just anomalies? And how do you explain the fact that Hopkins failed to produce any dermatology matches one year, in spite of the fact that several students tried to match into derm? Or what about the fact that WashU (a top-5 med school with a stellar reputation) failed to send any grads into plastic surgery this year, even though several students (all alpha omega alpha with research experience) tried to match into plastic surgery? Just an anomaly, right?

Hmmm...methinks that there's a reasonable conclusion based on this evidence: the Match is actually a merit-based system, where the best and the brightest get the prime spots. The fact that prestigious med schools typically have great match lists does not mean that prestige is an important factor in residency placement ; it just means that the students at these institutions have a disproportionately high number of overachievers, individuals who are freakishly good standardized test-takers.

I agree completely. The highest ranked schools get the majority of the top students that would match great regardless, based on the same qualities that got them into a "top" medical school. The only exception is the med school's home hospital. Going to harvard will give you a massive advantage at MGH etc. but after that its not going to help that much. Its just that most of the kids who can get into top schools dont need the name advantage.
 

meanderson

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Originally posted by elias514
My argument still holds. Consider this: what proportion of students at unranked med schools (relative to highly ranked med schools) actually score above the 90th percentile on Step 1? I bet you that the majority of the students who score in the uppermost decile on Step 1 are med students at prestigious med schools. This is a very reasonable speculation, because after all, the people who get into "elite" medical schools typically are extraordinary standardized test-takers and truly outstanding students; hence the high MCAT and GPA averages at top med schools.

Harvard, UCSF, Stanford, Yale.

University of Minnesota, University of Utah, University of Virginia, Ohio State University.

The top 4 are "elite" schools. The bottom four are non-elite but solid state schools. The average mcat difference between these schools is about 2 points(33.3 vs. 31.2). Anyone who has taken a statistics class knows that there will be plenty of overlap in the 25/75 regions of these classes, at least concerning MCAT scores. Based on these numbers, I'm not sure it's correct to assume that a majority of high step 1 scores come from top 10 schools. I'd guess that the average mcat/gpa combo of the top 25% at minnesota is roughly equivalent to the 25th-50th percentile at Stanford.

And I know I'm cherry picking a little here(using WashU or Columbia would have produced a greater disparity), but I think it's still a valid point. OTOH, it's certainly true that there is a VERY strong correlation between quality of undergrad and mcat scores. I think the argument that students from top 20 undergrads get into med school at a higher rate only because they tend to have higher mcat scores is a lot more solid.
 

Xmulder

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Super Rob,
To your point re: Dartmouth, I think this med school is actually unfairly penalized in terms of its USNews ranking. It is considered in the mid-30s but this is only because Dartmouth is a small school, a very smaall class, and very low research dollars. Though small in the aggregate, Dartmouth has oone of th highest per capital dollars per researcher. If not for this factor, i believe Dartmouth would certainly rank in the top 10-20 or so.
 
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