Harvard Medical School pulls out of US News rankings

Boston-based Harvard Medical School has withdrawn from U.S. News and World Report's rankings and will no longer submit information to the publication, The Wall Street Journal reported Jan. 17. 

George Daley, MD, PhD, said he has been considering withdrawal since he became the medical school's dean six years ago. He said the rankings can cause schools to report false data and divert need-based financial aid to those with high test scores — skewing institutions' policies to revolve around the ranking system. 

When law schools around the country backed out of the rankings, it inspired Dr. Daley to take steps of his own. 

Cambridge, Mass.-based Harvard Law School pulled its participation from U.S. News' law school rankings in November following New Haven, Conn.-based Yale University. Other leading universities followed, concerned that the system's focus on test scores, grades and postgraduate employment discourages public service and hinders diversity in admittance. On Jan. 4, U.S. News announced several changes to round out its ranking system, but it is unclear if those measures will be enough to regain universities' favor. 

Thirty percent of US News' medical school rankings rely on peer assessment surveys from deans, admissions directors, academics and residency program directors. In its revamp of the law school rankings, the publication reduced emphasis on peer assessment surveys and increased the weight of outcome measures. 

Median MCAT scores, undergraduate GPAs, research activity and production of primary care doctors also give weight to the medical school rankings, the report said. 

"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, according to the Journal.

"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," Eric Gertler, CEO and executive chairman of U.S. News told Becker's 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."

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