5 medical schools withdraw from US News' rankings

As of Jan. 24, five medical schools have withdrawn from U.S. News & World Report's ranking system. 

Following in law schools' footsteps, these institutions are concerned that the ranking system does not provide a fair, comprehensive overview of each university. U.S. News' emphasis on peer assessment surveys, postgraduate employment and test scores are among the universities' concerns — opponents believe they prioritize prestige and institutional wealth, and incentivize schools to divert need-based aid. 

These universities will no longer submit their own information to the publication, but U.S. News can still rate them using publicly available data. 

1. Harvard Medical School (Boston): Harvard was first to withdraw from the rankings on Jan. 17. George Daley, MD, PhD, said he had been considering the move since becoming the medical school's dean six years ago. When law schools took action, it inspired him to do the same. 

"Ultimately, the suitability of any particular medical school for any given student is too complex, nuanced and individualized to be served by a rigid ranked list, no matter the methodology," Dr. Daley said. 

2. Columbia University (New York City): Katrina Armstrong, MD, dean of Columbia's Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, announced the school's withdrawal from the rankings in a Jan. 20 email shared with Becker's. The university will search for new ways to share information with prospective students, and it will continue to report information publicly, Dr. Armstrong said. 

"The USNWR medical school rankings perpetuate a narrow and elitist perspective on medical education," Dr. Armstrong wrote. "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. Their focus on standardized test scores comes at a time when it is widely understood that prioritizing these scores rewards well-resourced applicants without regard for selecting the individuals who can best serve the future needs of a diverse and changing world." 

3. Stanford (Calif.) University: Stanford's decision came next in a letter published Jan. 23. Lloyd Minor, MD, the medical school's dean, echoed Columbia's sentiment — Stanford will devise a new method and begin independently reporting its performance metrics on March 1, he wrote. 

"Ultimately, we believe that the methodology, as it stands, does not capture the full extent of what makes for an exceptional learning environment," Dr. Minor wrote, noting that Stanford Health Care would still participate in the separate "Best Hospitals" ranking. 

4. The University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia): The Perelman School of Medicine shared its exit from the rankings in a Jan. 24 memo from J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, dean of the medical school and executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania for the health system. The school already submitted its data for this year, so the change will be effective in 2024. The data usually shared with the publication will be available on the medical school's admissions site, and Penn Medicine will continue to participate in the "Best Hospitals" ranking, according to the memo. 

Dr. Jameson listed several concerns with U.S. News' ranking criteria, including reinforcement of a legacy approach, heavy weighting on federal research funding, and emphasis on students' grades and test scores. 

5. Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (New York City): Mount Sinai's medical school withdrew from the rankings on Jan. 24. David Muller, MD, the university's dean for medical education, announced the change in a memo shared with Becker's

"Medical education cannot be reduced to a set of numbers that purport to reflect its quality," Dr. Muller wrote to faculty, staff, trainees and students. "Candidates to medical school want to know about culture and climate, mentorship, opportunities for research and community service, wellness initiatives, curricular outcomes, and the depth and breadth of student support."

"Our counterparts at many other institutions agree, and several other medical schools, including those of Harvard, Columbia, Stanford, and the University of Pennsylvania, have recently announced their intention to no longer participate in the rankings," Dr. Muller continued. "For now, our decision to withdraw applies only to the medical school rankings, but we will re-evaluate our participation in other U.S. News rankings over time."

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