The Hebert School of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University (USU) recently made the decision to no longer participate in the U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Graduate Schools” annual rankings.
After looking at the process the publication uses to determine the rankings, the school stated that “we concluded that continued participation is a disservice to medical school applications.”
Background information provided by the school noted that the academic medicine field is well aware of the approached used by U.S. News. One study fifteen years ago concluded that “the annual U.S. News and World Report rankings of American medical schools are ill-conceived; are unscientific; are conducted poorly; ignore medical school accreditation; judge medical school quality from a narrow, elitist perspective; and do not consider social and professional outcomes in program quality calculations. The medical school rankings have no practical value and fail to meet standards of journalistic ethics.”
According to the current paper, when it comes to the rankings, there are some “perverse incentives” involved. Specifically, “a medical school that wants to boost its rank should heavily favor applicants with super-high MCAT scores and grade point averages and ignore important attributes such as character, grit, and life experiences that predict that a student will become a wonderful doctor.” Additionally, the paper points out that to make its “selectivity” score higher, a school may in fact encourage applicants from large numbers of people with little or no chance of acceptance simply. Of note, the paper also calls out the fact that the U.S. News ranking ignores whether or not a school is accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medicine Education, which requires schools to submit tons of information to meet strict standards.
Overall, USU says that the U.S. News’ “one size- fits-all” approach has its limitations. “Because we serve as the leadership academy for military health in the United States, our curriculum is unique,” the school explained. “We not only provide the same high-quality education that civilian medical schools teach, our students receive 700-plus hours of additional instruction in military-relevant topics such as combat casualty care, tropical medicine, global health, ethics, and officership.” In the end, the school suggest that there is a better way for prospective medical school students to compare their options – consulting the Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) database, the service provided by the Association of American Medical Colleges. Using this research, students can access detailed information about each accredited U.S. and Canadian medical schools, as well as let users search, sort, and compare schools based on what a student’s priorities are.
The authors concluded by saying: “In our view, a decision as important as choosing where to apply to medical school should be based on more than perceptions — it should be based on reality. Moreover, the information each applicant receives should be objective, reliable, and relevant to his or her personal needs and aspirations. That’s why the Hébert School of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University will no longer participate in U.S. News’ annual survey. We hope that more medical schools will follow.