The new rankings are out; patients continue to get quality care

April 6, 2008 at 8:37 pm (Applying to med school)

The pop-culture magazine U.S. News & World Report recently released its latest edition of the university rankings. This list—published on or around April 1 each year—attempts to tell readers which colleges are the best in the country. A look at this year’s rankings reveals that Harvard and Johns Hopkins University are once again the top two medical schools in the country. The magazine then goes on to record 60 other names in sequential order as if going to medical school at #10 somehow produces a better doctor than #20. While I’m glad to see that my school is named amongst these ranked universities, I wonder if these numbers mean anything. Besides, who’s ever heard of Washington University (#3) anyway?

Each medical school goes through a rigorous accreditation process and is forced to turn out some of the world’s best physicians. I’ve looked at the match list for several universities this year and noticed that medical students can land top residencies no matter where they get their initial training.

Further, patients really don’t care where their doctors have gone to school. There is no shortage of people waiting to get treatment from my university’s attendings. As much as I like to rail against the inefficiency of my medical school, our alumni fare well after graduating. They can enter any specialty imaginable, have published tons of papers on various diseases, and can do a pretty good job of taking care of patients, too.

To this day I have never heard of physicians say that finding a job is difficult. A quick glance at any set of classified ads for doctors will reveal that there is a huge demand for our services, regardless of where we did our training. Heck, I even had one psych patient asked me if I had gone to Yale, Harvard, or Princeton for medical school. He was shocked to find out that my program even existed. My own personal internist went to a Caribbean medical school. But if his American residency program believe that he was good enough to become an internist, I’m certainly willing to continue seeing him.

The take-home message is that the ranking system does more to inflate the egos of people who are applying to medical school than it does to instill confidence with patients. I don’t know why med school applicants put so much stock into these numbers.

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6 Comments

  1. WanabeMD said,

    I agree, those rankings are pretty BS. I’ve meet great docs from the Caribbean and awful docs from Harvard. But, have you seriously never heard of Washington University? WashU?

  2. halfmd said,

    Yes, I’ve heard of WashU before, but that’s only because I’m in the medical field. Six years ago—the first time I checked the rankings—I was surprised to see Washington University listed as the number one program in the nation. At that time I had never heard of it. And given that many people think that WashU is in Seattle, I don’t think that I’m alone.

  3. anonymous said,

    What? WashU isn’t in Seattle? What else is in Washington besides salmon?

    I used to actually ask doctors about these things, me being a perpetual student. The one who I see, a Johns Hopkins grad and third generation doctor started laughing and said, “Who gives a shit? 95% of what I see doesn’t require anything more than that I wash my hands and put on gloves properly. The more difficult stuff gets referred to other doctors!”

  4. Joseph Kim, M.D. said,

    Some physicians still have some difficulty finding their “ideal” jobs in large cities. These areas have too many doctors, so the supply/demand balance is not reflective of other regions.

    JK
    http://mdjosephkim.blogspot.com/

  5. DrMcNinja said,

    Like your school, many people were not aware that my school had a medical college. One of the funny things is that every time we would go to conferences, people would ask us if we went to a DO school, since we had three sins in the name. A cardinal direction, someone’s name, and college instead of school of medicine in the name. It got old.

  6. Kas said,

    Wash U is in St. Louis
    University of Washington is in Seattle

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