Medical School Rankings

Every year the US News and World Report release their annual educational ranking lists that are considered to be the gold standard for such things, including their list of ‘Best Medical Schools in the US’. Although you may have read these lists in the past have you ever wondered just how the people who are responsible for compiling this list actually decide which school is better than another, especially when it comes to medical schools that are generally considered to be as excellent as one another like Harvard, Stanford and Johns Hopkins? Here is a little about just how they decide:

Peer Assessment

The medical school rankings are not just based on the opinions of a few. Every year surveys are sent out to the medical and osteopathic school deans, deans of academic affairs, and heads of internal medicine or the directors of admissions of all the 126 medical schools fully accredited in 2012 by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, plus the 23 schools of osteopathic medicine fully accredited by the American Osteopathic Association. These people are asked to rank each program on a scale of 1 (marginal) to 5 (outstanding), so this part of the process could not be termed very scientific and there is obviously always going to be some bias involved.

Similar surveys are also sent out to the residency directors of the various teaching facilities that accept medical students onto their staff to complete their medical residency requirements. As many hospitals accept residents from a number of different medial schools these opinions may be a little more objective, but again, not very scientific.

Research Activity

How much research each medical school conducts, and how many of the grants for such research are provided by the National Institutes of Health and how many are privately funded is a factor in a school’s overall ‘score’.

Mean Academic Scores

The average MCAT and undergraduate GPA scores, as well as the GPA scores of enrolled students is taken into consideration when ranking the medical schools apart from one another.

The cost of attending each of the schools is not a factor in the listings and neither is the ethnic makeup of the student body. Some small degree of weight is given to the faculty’s own academic and research records but not a great deal.

As respected as the ‘US News and World Report’ Best Medical Schools list is, as you can see, it is to a great extent, somewhat subjective so just because a candidate did not attend one of the top ten schools on the list does not mean that their aptitude or skills is in any way inferior when it comes to the all-important practice of medicine.