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UCSF - overrated or underrated?

pasta man

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Consider this:
- Many Californians have expressed that UCSF is their ultimate dream school.
- The Dean of Admissions at UCSF tells interviewees that UCSF is the best medical school in the country.
- Outside of the west coast, many people have never heard of UCSF or don't think it's all that great.
- According to an official AMSA survey, UCSF medical students express the following complaints about their school: inadequate funding at times (it is a public school, after all), poor advising, lack of mentoring, inconsistent quality of teaching.
- Location (San Francisco) is often cited as one of the school's big strengths.
- Diversity (within student body and in San Francisco) is also cited as a strength.

Is UCSF overrated among Californians (do west coasters think it's the shiznit because of proximity and familiarity)? Is UCSF grossly underrated everywhere else? Location aside, what would qualify UCSF as the best medical school in the country? Why would it better than Hopkins, Harvard, Mayo, etc.? Why would it not be the best?
 

notdeadyet

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I think east coast folks probably think UCSF is over-rated amongst Californians for the same reason that some west coast folks wonder why Johns Hopkins and Harvard get so many folks all hot and bothered. Proximity.

At the end of the day, they're all just schools. Your undergrad, high school, and elementary school all laid a hand in shaping you. Med school will too. But it won't define you.
 

notdeadyet

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- Outside of the west coast, many people have never even heard of UCSF or don't think it's all that great.
Interesting. I didn't know too many premeds who thought that UCSF was a shabby med school.

If you're talking about John Q. Public, I wouldn't him to know the reputation of various medical schools. Mr. Public knows about Harvard Med because he knows about Harvard, not the med school itself. Tell someone on the street that you went to med school at Princeton and they'd be pretty impressed as well.

If you're from California, you know about the reputation and strength of UCSF (disclosure: I think it's one of the best in the country). And UCSF gets the cream of the crop of OOS applicants, so it can't be that poorly regarded.
 
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If UCSF were located right next to WashU, Californians would be hailing UCLA as their dream school. And if UCLA were then relocated in Texas, UCSD would (all of a sudden) be all of our top choices.

UCSF gains power through merit, but only relative to other CA schools.

Don't misinterpret this as me saying UCSF is a bad school, because it's definitely not, but it's CA-er's dream school because it's in CA. If Harvard were in SF and UCSF were in Boston, Harvard would reign the new CA champion.
 
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I'm well familiar with it and have never lived in Cali. I think it's one of the best schools in the country, but I also think that any of the top 15-20 schools according to anybody's "ranking" system are pretty much equivalent.

It's all about your exposure. Ask a lay person which university is better between Duke and Wash or Emory, and Duke is going to be given more respect because of their basketball team. That's why they dump all of that cash into their team.

That's also why it's better to focus on the opinions of medical professionals.
 

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If UCSF were located right next to WashU, Californians would be hailing UCLA as their dream school. And if UCLA were then relocated in Texas, UCSD would (all of a sudden) be all of our top choices.

UCSF gains power through merit, but only relative to other CA schools.

Don't misinterpret this as me saying UCSF is a bad school, because it's definitely not, but it's CA-er's dream school because it's in CA. If Harvard were in SF and UCSF were in Boston, Harvard would reign the new CA champion.

So what would happen if we moved Guadalajara University to San Francisco, shipped Harvard off to the Caribbean, switched University of Florida with University of South Florida, and put Stewart University in Boston (the exact location would still remain secret, of course)?
 

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well...only because harvard has ~400 years of tradition and history that people get all starry eyed over. if you couldn't tell funny stories about peeing on john harvard's foot, i'm not sure people would still come :D
 

pyrois

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So what would happen if we moved Guadalajara University to San Francisco, shipped Harvard off to the Caribbean, switched University of Florida with University of South Florida, and put Stewart University in Boston (the exact location would still remain secret, of course)?

Guadalajara University would be the new UCSF, which would be ranked slightly below UC Davis, and thousands of Californians would eat their grandmother's left big toe to get in.

Harvard would be a foreign medical school, and nobody would go (kind of like that Cornell branch in the middle-east or something? I forget).
 

pasta man

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Interesting. I didn't know too many premeds who thought that UCSF was a shabby med school.

If you're talking about John Q. Public, I wouldn't him to know the reputation of various medical schools. Mr. Public knows about Harvard Med because he knows about Harvard, not the med school itself. Tell someone on the street that you went to med school at Princeton and they'd be pretty impressed as well.

If you're from California, you know about the reputation and strength of UCSF (disclosure: I think it's one of the best in the country). And UCSF gets the cream of the crop of OOS applicants, so it can't be that poorly regarded.

I don't think anyone thinks UCSF is a poor school, but I've talked to a lot of people "in the biz" (doctors, pre-meds) who don't think or know that it's great. I guess what I am looking for here is substance behind the reputation. Yes, everyone in CA thinks it's awesome, but why? Besides location, what sets UCSF apart?
 

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I know there's a contingent of Californians that would rather go to UCLA than UCSF for med school, but it could just be a socal/norcal thing.

speaking as a southern californian, my world stops at san luis obispo, so SF can blow me.

edit/ but for some reason UCSF students keep taking those really competitive residency spots lol go figure!
 

notdeadyet

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but I've talked to a lot of people "in the biz" (doctors, pre-meds) who don't think or know that it's great.
Premeds pretty much have informed and valued opinions about anything up to, but not including, medical school and medicine.

I really wouldn't be too concerned with reputation as tossed around by premeds. They have zero impact in terms of the value of the actual degree.

Personally, I would put "reputation" pretty low on the totem pole of important attributes of a school. And if you do want to study it, I'd rate opinion importance: residency directors > physicians > John Q. Public >> premeds.
 

notdeadyet

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Besides location, what sets UCSF apart?
Do a search on SDN or even google. I think the reason that you're not getting the sort of feedback you're looking for is that UCSF fans don't really feel the need for salesmenship. Those who've looked at it close seem to subjectively think it's a fine school and most objective yardsticks agree.

The loud blowing of trumpets is only for those who feel they have something to prove.
 
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I think when you talk to doctors and people who have been there, done that, UCSF has a strong reputation. I think it's kind of a stretch to say that people outside of CA aren't real high on the school. They consistently send their students to the most competitive residencies in the nation, obviously there is a lot of respect for the type of doctors they produce. To be honest, I'm not sure who you heard so many negative things about the school from. To be fair, there's definitely decreased funding vs. private Ivy's i.e. Harvard/Yale/Hopkins, but the school is doing alright for itself.
 

pasta man

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Do a search on SDN or even google. I think the reason that you're not getting the sort of feedback you're looking for is that UCSF fans don't really feel the need for salesmenship. Those who've looked at it close seem to subjectively think it's a fine school and most objective yardsticks agree.

The loud blowing of trumpets is only for those who feel they have something to prove.

To the contrary, I feel like UCSF fans are constantly selling UCSF. I hear the following way too much: "UCSF is the best," "UCSF is one of the top schools in the country," etc. But I never hear why (except for overused reasons of location and diversity). It makes me wonder whether people just blindly buy into and perpetuate the hype of UCSF without ever bothering to scrutinize for specifics.
 

pasta man

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I think when you talk to doctors and people who have been there, done that, UCSF has a strong reputation. I think it's kind of a stretch to say that people outside of CA aren't real high on the school. They consistently send their students to the most competitive residencies in the nation, obviously there is a lot of respect for the type of doctors they produce. To be honest, I'm not sure who you heard so many negative things about the school from. To be fair, there's definitely decreased funding vs. private Ivy's i.e. Harvard/Yale/Hopkins, but the school is doing alright for itself.

The negative things I listed are straight from the horse's mouth - UCSF med students. Here: http://www.amsa.org/premed/medsurvey/
 

pasta man

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Throughout all of these replies, not one person has given a concrete, objective reason why UCSF qualifies as one of the best schools in the country. Instead, people merely cite UCSF's reputation, respect, prestige, etc. Is UCSF all a smoke screen? Is there nothing to back up all this hype?

Note that I am definitely NOT bashing UCSF. I only want to learn more about the facts behind the reputation.
 

notdeadyet

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Throughout all of these replies, not one person has given a concrete, objective reason why UCSF qualifies as one of the best schools in the country. Instead, people merely cite UCSF's reputation, respect, prestige, etc. Is UCSF all a smoke screen? Is there nothing to back up all this hype?
Did the dean run over your puppy? Sorry, bud, but you obviously have some kind of grudge against the school. I wouldn't expect too many people to want to play.

If you have doubts about UCSF, don't go there. Those that did seem pretty happy about their choice. 'nuff said....
 

cgscribe

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That survey is of five students...Now, I'm not a researcher, but it seems that might not be a good sample for the full classes at UCSF. But, even so, if you look at the results of the surveys they consistently rank 4-5 in learning environment, , enjoyment of the area, opportunities for research, teaching in all four years, and one person even sites the administration as one reason they like the school. I mean, if you're a fundamentalist UCSF hater, I'm not going to convince you. I think the school is thought of well because the environment is relaxed, the students are happy, they're being taught by some of the nation's best doctors, and there are abundant research/clinical opportunities.
 

pasta man

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Did the dean run over your puppy? Sorry, bud, but you obviously have some kind of grudge against the school. I wouldn't expect too many people to want to play.

If you have doubts about UCSF, don't go there. Those that did seem pretty happy about their choice. 'nuff said....

The Dean is a very nice man.
As I have said, I am not bashing UCSF. I don't hate UCSF. I in fact like UCSF. But I need to play devil's advocate because I need to know what's behind the curtain. The reputation has to come from somewhere, right?
 

notdeadyet

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But I need to play devil's advocate because I need to know what's behind the curtain. The reputation has to come from somewhere, right?
It comes from the same place as any well respected med school. For reasons cgscribe described. I don't think UCSF has some particular oddity that makes it a good school. It is just strong in most of the ways by which people judge medical schools.

If you're interested in specific programs or departments, you might start here.
 

Senor Fish

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Every student I've talked to at UCSF, from first to fourth year has had a positive experience. Ranking, prestige, blah, blah, blah- I don't give much of a crap about that- I want to go where there is an ethusiastic group of students willing to work together with faculty that will support them. From what I've seen, UCSF fits this description perfectly.

Are you specifically comparing UCSF to other acceptances? If so, which schools?

SF
 
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notdeadyet

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Every student I've talked to at UCSF, from first to fourth year has had a positive experience.
Exactly. I just haven't met many UCSF students who had UCSF-problems. Met quite a few who had general medical school gripes, but not a lot of UCSF slamming. And I worked at UCSF for a couple years and have lived in SF for 12.
 

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I kind of think that the OP's question is a bit silly...UCSF is a great school, which no one seems to deny. Whether it's under-ranked or over-ranked depends on you. If you think that it doesn't give you enough value for the difficulty it takes to get in, you obviously think it is over-ranked. If you think it is a great school, with great opportunities, like me, you likely think it's appropriately ranked...
 

notdeadyet

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If you think that it doesn't give you enough value for the difficulty it takes to get in, you obviously think it is over-ranked. If you think it is a great school, with great opportunities, like me, you likely think it's appropriately ranked...
... and if you feel a top 10 school is under-ranked, you give way too much respect to the minutia of the ranking system...
 

eekonomics

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... and if you feel a top 10 school is under-ranked, you give way too much respect to the minutia of the ranking system...

Yes, I don't understand what it would mean to call a top 10 school under-ranked. And some folks wouldn't understand what it would mean to call a U.S. medical school under-ranked. It's all relative.

Good barometers I've heard about for judging a school are research faculty, if you're into that, residency placement, curricular style, facilities, student body, funding. UCSF does pretty darn well on these, albeit maybe not at the top of every category.
 

pasta man

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Notdeadyet, I'm a little interested in why you said this:

Interesting. I didn't know too many premeds who thought that UCSF was a shabby med school.

and then this:

Premeds pretty much have informed and valued opinions about anything up to, but not including, medical school and medicine.

I really wouldn't be too concerned with reputation as tossed around by premeds. They have zero impact in terms of the value of the actual degree.
 

pasta man

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I kind of think that the OP's question is a bit silly...UCSF is a great school, which no one seems to deny. Whether it's under-ranked or over-ranked depends on you. If you think that it doesn't give you enough value for the difficulty it takes to get in, you obviously think it is over-ranked. If you think it is a great school, with great opportunities, like me, you likely think it's appropriately ranked...

Yeah, I agree with you. I guess this wasn't the best name for the thread. My real question is simply what sets UCSF apart.
 

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there were two polls/surveys on this website about pre-meds choice with about 800 people voting. in the one i started, ucsf and harvard were basically tied for 1st. in the more official SDN survey, UCSF was #1. i wondered myself who out there doesn't know about UCSF because every premed on this forum does. i was also worried that people on the east coast won't know what ucsf is, but i've come to believe that people on the west coast dont think east coast schools are that big of a deal (ucsf, stanford, ucla, ucsd all are top 15 schools) and people on the east coast think we're just playing hospitals out here.
 

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here's somethin concrete:

UCSF has THE best neuropsychiatric training programs in the country.... and are doing most of the leading research in several specific areas of neurology.

Not To Mention, "Pasta Man", I think YOU'RE over-rated.
 

pasta man

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here's somethin concrete:

UCSF has THE best neuropsychiatric training programs in the country.... and are doing most of the leading research in several specific areas of neurology.

Not To Mention, "Pasta Man", I think YOU'RE over-rated.

Thanks for the statistic!
But I don't think I'm overrated since I don't think people care enough to rate me at all :oops:
Unless you've tasted my pasta....in which case, it most definitely is not overrated.
 

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here's somethin concrete:

UCSF has THE best neuropsychiatric training programs in the country.... and are doing most of the leading research in several specific areas of neurology.

Not To Mention, "Pasta Man", I think YOU'RE over-rated.
I'm not sure where you got that from. I was reading in the psych forum that UCSF actually has weak neuroscience in their psychiatry residency. yes, they have one of the top 3 neuroscience PhD programs and neurology residencies, but a little confused.
 
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Notdeadyet, I'm a little interested in why you said this:

and then this:
I don't follow you? They aren't contradictory. You mention that lots of premeds don't think UCSF is very good; I don't think too many premeds don't like UCSF. And regardless, I don't think the opinion of what premeds think of a school is important to a schools reputation.
 

pasta man

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I don't follow you? They aren't contradictory. You mention that lots of premeds don't think UCSF is very good; I don't think too many premeds don't like UCSF. And regardless, I don't think the opinion of what premeds think of a school is important to a schools reputation.

They are contradictory. I didn't even mention pre-meds in my original post. You used pre-med opinion (ie, you don't know too many pre-meds who think UCSF is shabby) to counter my "Outside of the west coast, many people have never even heard of UCSF or don't think it's all that great." Then you say you don't care for pre-med opinion.

But anyway, your contradicting yourself has nothing to do with the quality of UCSF, so I'll let it slide. :smuggrin:
 

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I'm not sure where you got that from. I was reading in the psych forum that UCSF actually has weak neuroscience in their psychiatry residency. yes, they have one of the top 3 neuroscience PhD programs and neurology residencies, but a little confused.

Residency programs are not the same as medschool "undergrad" courses. Also, the neurology residencies have opened up new neuropsychiatric options. In the past year neuropsychiatry has become recognized as it's own speciality separate from psychiatry or neurology--so a weak neuroscience section of the psychiatry residency doesn't correlate with the strength of the neuropsychiatric residency program. It is mostly being supported by previous specialists from within the neurology department. Anyways, I'm talking about research funding and opportunities for medical students, not residents...UCSF's phd courses and research projects are available to it's medical students.
 

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To answer the OPs question, hospital system is a big consideration. I don't think that UCSF will ever earn the national recognition of Hopkins or Harvard because it doesn't have the powerhouse hospitals behind it that those schools do.
 

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Residency programs are not the same as medschool "undergrad" courses. Also, the neurology residencies have opened up new neuropsychiatric options. In the past year neuropsychiatry has become recognized as it's own speciality separate from psychiatry or neurology--so a weak neuroscience section of the psychiatry residency doesn't correlate with the strength of the neuropsychiatric residency program. It is mostly being supported by previous specialists from within the neurology department. Anyways, I'm talking about research funding and opportunities for medical students, not residents...UCSF's phd courses and research projects are available to it's medical students.
I heard that neuropsyhiatry was approved, but I thought it is a fellowship and not a residency program. Am I confused? I am also not sure what a neuropsychiatrist does.

To the OP I don't think UCSF is overrated. Yes, it is a state school so it won't have all the nice perks of a private school, but it has what matters.
 

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Asking a bunch of common folk if UCSF is "overrated" or "underrated" is a pointless beyond impressing friends/family with a name they recognize. The fact is that the people whose opinions matter (those giving you your residency) rank them as the 3rd-4th best in the nation.

Reputation among medical school directors:
USNWR surveyed: deans, deans of academic affairs, and heads of internal medicine or the directors of admissions
USCF got 4.7/5.0, ranked #3 after Harvard and Johns Hopkins (4.8).

Reputation among Residency Program Directors:
USNWR surveyed residency program directors.
UCSF got 4.5/5.0, ranked #4 after Harvard (4.7), Johns Hopkins and Duke (4.6).

UCSF is a also a leader in medical and Biological Sciences Research.

USNWR has rankings for graduate studies based on surveys sent to "department heads and directors of graduate studies" at univerisites "that awarded at least five doctoral degrees".

UCSF cleaned up in the Biological Sciences categories, ranked #10 overall and from #2-#6 in 6 of 8 "specialty" categories. Here's the low-down:

#10 - Overall

#5 - Biochemistry/Biophysics/Structural Biology
#2 - Cell Biology
#5 - Genetics/Genomics/Bioinformatics
#5 - Immunology/Infectious
#3 - Molecular Biology
#6 - Neuroscience

No Rank - Eco/Evo
No Rank - Microbioloby

So, UCSF has a top reputation in Medical circles, Residency competitiveness, and Academia (Biological Research).
 

pasta man

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Thanks for the data! :thumbup:

Asking a bunch of common folk if UCSF is "overrated" or "underrated" is a pointless beyond impressing friends/family with a name they recognize. The fact is that the people whose opinions matter (those giving you your residency) rank them as the 3rd-4th best in the nation.

Reputation among medical school directors:
USNWR surveyed: deans, deans of academic affairs, and heads of internal medicine or the directors of admissions
USCF got 4.7/5.0, ranked #3 after Harvard and Johns Hopkins (4.8).

Reputation among Residency Program Directors:
USNWR surveyed residency program directors.
UCSF got 4.5/5.0, ranked #4 after Harvard (4.7), Johns Hopkins and Duke (4.6).

UCSF is a also a leader in medical and Biological Sciences Research.

USNWR has rankings for graduate studies based on surveys sent to "department heads and directors of graduate studies" at univerisites "that awarded at least five doctoral degrees".

UCSF cleaned up in the Biological Sciences categories, ranked #10 overall and from #2-#6 in 6 of 8 "specialty" categories. Here's the low-down:

#10 - Overall

#5 - Biochemistry/Biophysics/Structural Biology
#2 - Cell Biology
#5 - Genetics/Genomics/Bioinformatics
#5 - Immunology/Infectious
#3 - Molecular Biology
#6 - Neuroscience

No Rank - Eco/Evo
No Rank - Microbioloby

So, UCSF has a top reputation in Medical circles, Residency competitiveness, and Academia (Biological Research).
 

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I heard that neuropsyhiatry was approved, but I thought it is a fellowship and not a residency program. Am I confused? I am also not sure what a neuropsychiatrist does.


"Neuropsychiatry is the overlapping area between neurology and psychiatry concerned with the study, diagnosis and treatment of disorders resulting from organic or physical defects in the brain; ie. psychiatric problems or acquired behavioral disorders where measurable brain deficits exist."

Formerly, a MD was considered a Neuropsychiatrist if they did formal training in neurology or psychiatry followed by a fellowship in Neuropsychiatry or residency in both areas. In the past year Neuropsychiatry was approved as it's own specialty, so, over the next couple years, many formal neuropsychiatric fellowships will now be turned into residency programs..... UCSF has an excellent reputation in the neuropsychiatric fields and are in the process of turning their fellowship program into a residency.... I hope that helps. Check out their website or email the head of the neurology department there for more details:)

And yeah, way to go Good Doctor, well done.
 

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"Neuropsychiatry is the overlapping area between neurology and psychiatry concerned with the study, diagnosis and treatment of disorders resulting from organic or physical defects in the brain; ie. psychiatric problems or acquired behavioral disorders where measurable brain deficits exist."

Formerly, a MD was considered a Neuropsychiatrist if they did formal training in neurology or psychiatry followed by a fellowship in Neuropsychiatry or residency in both areas. In the past year Neuropsychiatry was approved as it's own specialty, so, over the next couple years, many formal neuropsychiatric fellowships will now be turned into residency programs..... UCSF has an excellent reputation in the neuropsychiatric fields and are in the process of turning their fellowship program into a residency.... I hope that helps. Check out their website or email the head of the neurology department there for more details:)

And yeah, way to go Good Doctor, well done.


Hey Max,

I'm going to be an MS-1 in the fall and I am extremely interested in Neurology and Psychiatry as of right now. Can you tell me more info about these "neuropsych" residencies? How long will they be and what other institutions plan on having them? Do you know anything about the job market for such physicians?

Thanks
 

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Hey Max,

I'm going to be an MS-1 in the fall and I am extremely interested in Neurology and Psychiatry as of right now. Can you tell me more info about these "neuropsych" residencies? How long will they be and what other institutions plan on having them? Do you know anything about the job market for such physicians?

Thanks

pm me....no reason to hijack the thread about UCSF:)
 
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