Tag Archives: medical schools

Med school rankings: Social mission vs. U.S. News

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

A contrarian system for ranking medical schools published recently in the Annals of Internal Medicine has already attracted a fair amount of press attention, which — along with innumerable self-congratulatory press-releases — should show just how much sway those rankings hold in the medical education industry.

morehouse

Atlanta’s Morehouse College topped new social mission rankings, but rated only 30th in primary care in the established U.S. News rating system. Photo by Steve Schwartz via Flickr

The alternative rankings score schools on “social mission” and result in a top-20 led by historically black colleges and a bottom 20 full of U.S. News favorites.

Much has already been said about the mental judging and ranking of physicians, but there has been less mentioned about how the rankings were arrived at.

The social mission rankings relied on the AMA Physician Masterfile, a $180 set of data that relies heavily upon self reporting. It “includes current and historical data for more than one million residents and physicians and approximately 82,000 students in the United States,” including international medical graduates. Using this set, the researchers used a simple formula:

The percentage of graduates who practice primary care, work in health professional shortage areas, and are underrepresented minorities, combined into a composite social mission score.

Compare this with the intricate (some might say Byzantine) calculus U.S. News methodology:

  • Quality Assessment (weighted by .40)
  • Peer Assessment Score (.20 for the research medical school model, .25 for the primary-care medical school model)
  • Assessment Score by Residency Directors (.20 for the research medical school model, .15 for the primary-care medical school model)
  • Research Activity (weighted by .30 in the research medical school model only; not used in primary care medical school ranking model)
  • Total Research Activity (.20)Measured by the total dollar amount of National Institutes of Health research grants awarded to the medical school and its affiliated hospitals, averaged for 2008 and 2009.
  • Average Research Activity Per Faculty Member (.10) Measured by the dollar amount of National Institutes of Health research grants awarded to the medical school and its affiliated hospitals per full-time faculty member, averaged over 2008 and 2009.
  • Primary-Care Rate (.30 in the primary-care medical school model only; not used in research medical school ranking model) The percentage of M.D. or D.O. school graduates entering primary-care residencies in the fields of family practice, pediatrics, and internal medicine was averaged over 2007, 2008, and 2009.
  • Student Selectivity (.20 in the research medical school model, .15 in the primary-care medical school model)
  • Mean MCAT Score (.13 in the research medical school model, .0975 in the primary-care medical school model)
  • Mean Undergraduate GPA (.06 in the research medical school model, .045 in the primary-care medical school model)
  • Acceptance Rate (.01 in the research medical school model, .0075 in the primary-care medical school model)
  • Faculty Resources (.10 in the research medical school model, .15 in the primary-care medical school model) … the ratio of full-time science and full-time clinical faculty to full-time M.D. or D.O. students in 2009
  • The U.S. News data is collected through a proprietary survey (which relies heavily on self-reporting), along with parsing of NIH grant data.

    Grassley compares ghostwriting, plagiarism

    Pia Christensen

    About Pia Christensen

    Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

    Sen/ Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) continues his investigation of “medical ghostwriting” with a letter to 10 medical schools asking “what they are doing about professors who put their names on ghostwritten articles in medical journals — and why that practice was any different from plagiarism by students.”

    Sen. Charles Grassley

    Sen. Charles Grassley

    At issue is the practice in which a writer — sometimes paid by a pharmaceutical or other involved company — works on an article intended for publication without being named while a less-involved researcher receives credit.

    Journals, medical associations and even pharmaceutical companies have called for an end to the practice but medical schools have been slower to respond.

    Grassley has asked the medical schools to explain their policies on ghostwriting and plagiarism, to list complaints and describe investigations into both practices.