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Not banking on rankings: More medical schools withdraw from U.S. News listing

Article

After Harvard Medical School announced it would no longer participate, other institutions are following suit.

Several top medical schools have now indicated they won’t be participating in the popular U.S. News and World Report rankings.

Harvard Medical School first made the announcement earlier in January, and several other schools have made similar decisions.

The medical schools at Columbia University, Stanford University, and the University of Pennsylvania, among others, all said in recent days they are no longer taking part in the U.S. News rankings. Duke University and the University of Chicago joined the ranks Friday.

Many students and families use the reports in making decisions on medical colleges, law schools and four-year colleges and universities. U.S. News has defended its rankings as a valuable tool in helping readers decide where to pursue their education. Plenty of medical schools and hospitals tout their lofty places in U.S. News reports.

But the rankings have gained growing scrutiny in recent years, with critics saying the focus on standardized tests favors affluent students and doesn’t reward schools for seeking diverse enrollment and promising students from disadvantaged groups.

Columbia

The Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University made the announcement Jan. 20, three days after Harvard Medical School. Katrina Armstrong, dean of the college, said in a statement that the “rankings perpetuate a narrow and elitist perspective on medical education.”

“Their emphasis is on self-reinforcing criteria such as reputation and institutional wealth, rather than measuring a school’s success in educating a diverse and well-trained cohort of doctors able to change medicine for the better and meet society’s needs,” Armstrong said.

University of Pennsylvania

J. Larry Jameson, dean of the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, said in a message to the school community that the institution had been contemplating the move for some time.

“We reached the decision to end our participation not because of concerns that these rankings are sometimes based on data that can be inaccurate or misleading, but because the rankings measure the wrong things,” Jameson said.

Mount Sinai

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai announced its decision to pull out of the U.S. News rankings Jan. 24, saying “the medical school rankings have a harmful impact on medical education.”

“The rankings provide a flawed and misleading assessment of medical schools; lack accuracy, validity, and relevance; and undermine the school’s core commitments to compassionate care, unrivaled education, cutting-edge research, a commitment to anti-racism, and outreach to diverse communities,” the school said.

Stanford

Lloyd Minor, dean of the Stanford School of Medicine, said in a statement Jan. 23 that is withdrawing from the U.S. News rankings after “extensive deliberation.” U.S. News can continue to rank the school using publicly available data, Minor said. And Stanford said it would independently report data on the medical school’s performance.

“We believe that our decision, along with those of a growing number of peer institutions, is necessary to lead a long-overdue examination of how medical education quality is evaluated and presented to aspiring students,” Minor stated.

Washington University in St. Louis

The Washington University School of Medicine said Jan. 26 it would no longer participate in the U.S. News rankings. David H. Perlmutter, the school’s executive vice chancellor for medical affairs, said “it is time to stop participating in a system that does not serve our students or their future patients.”

Even though Washington University School of Medicine has fared well, Perlmutter said, “There comes a point at which participating in such a system can stand in the way of achieving our most important goals. The information upon which these rankings are based is too easily subject to manipulation and misrepresentation.”

UW School of Medicine

While it already submitted data this year, the UW School of Medicine said Jan. 26 that it would stop contributing to the U.S. News rankings. Timothy H. Dellit, interim CEO of UW Medicine and interim dean of the UW School of Medicine, said “it is important to join other medical schools” in ending participation.

“The emphasis on prestige and reputation without any objective evaluation of the quality of education is discordant with our vision for the future of medicine,” Dellit said in the statement. “Similarly, the sole focus on standardized scores and grades does not reflect our holistic admission process and the importance of diverse life experiences. Instead, this emphasis perpetuates inherent bias.”

Duke University

The Duke University School of Medicine said Friday it would no longer submit data to the U.S. News rankings. In a statement, the medical school’s leaders said they “long had reservations” about the rankings.

“While the ranking system may have been intended to provide students with useful information to help them determine whether a school is a good match for them, it is now apparent that the metrics used have little connection to the values or the quality of the school’s educational program,” the school said.

University of Chicago

The Pritzker School of Medicine announced its move to stop participating in the rankings, citing “the impact the ratings system has on an equitable medical education.” The school announced its decision Friday, Jan. 27.

Vineet Arora, dean for medical education of the Pritzker School, said many the chief concern in the decision is reducing inequities in medical education. “This is essential as our nation continues to suffer from extreme health disparities and would greatly benefit from a more diverse physician workforce,” Arora said in a statement.

Defending the rankings

Eric Gertler, U.S. News executive chairman & CEO, said earlier this month that the rankings offer valuable guidance to students and families in making decisions on where to go to school.

“We know that comparing diverse academic institutions across a common data set is challenging, and that is why we have consistently stated that the rankings should be one component in a prospective student’s decision-making process,” Gertler said in a statement.

“The fact is, millions of prospective students annually visit U.S. News medical school rankings because we provide students with valuable data and solutions to help with that process."

In recent months, several top law schools, including Yale Law School, Harvard Law School, and Berkeley Law, said they are withdrawing from the U.S. News rankings.



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