Medical schools are wrong to leave US News rankings, NYU Langone leaders say

Several medical schools have made headlines in recent weeks for withdrawing voluntary participation in U.S. News & World Report's popular rankings, alleging they interfere with diversity measures. 

That premise is dangerous, two leaders from New York City-based NYU Langone Health said in a Feb. 15 opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal.

The piece was written by Fritz François, MD — executive vice president and vice dean, chief of hospital operations for NYU Langone Health — and Gbenga Ogedegbe, MD — director of the Institute for Excellence in Health Equity at NYU Langone Health. Both are also professors at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, based in New York City. 

The authors argue that medical schools are free to admit anyone they choose, regardless of their position in the rankings; a diversity criteria should not affect schools' decisions to create an inclusive environment. 

Many prestigious universities that withdrew participation said the rankings' focus on peer assessments and standardized test scores perpetuate an elitist mentality. But the authors believe their actions send a different message. 

"What these schools are really saying is that meritocracy can't coexist with diversity," the authors wrote. "This is a presumptuous — and dangerous — perpetuation of the negative stereotype that students from backgrounds that are underrepresented in medicine are of lesser quality or unable to compete." 

"Diversity is no reason to opt out of a competitive process, especially as some of those medical schools actually encourage their alumni to vote in the U.S. News 'Best Hospitals' ranking," the authors continued. 

Medical schools should be debating the rankings' criteria, as they have long been viewed as a benchmark for success. But withdrawing does nothing to further diversity, equity and inclusion, and only undermines true progress, according to the authors. 

"Even if these schools didn't intend to imply that diversity and excellence are mutually exclusive, that's what they're doing. It's not an implication we can accept," the authors wrote. "Let's be honest about how we can use a competitive landscape to work harder — without eclipsing the progress that has only begun."

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