Viewpoint: Why AMCs need rankings

For academic health systems, a strong ranking is more than an affirmation — it's a magnet for top talent and a catalyst for future developments, according to Jakub Tolar, MD, PhD, dean of the Minneapolis-based University of Minnesota Medical School and its vice president for clinical affairs.

In a Feb. 25 op-ed published in the Star Tribune, Dr. Tolar explained why academic medical centers anxiously await new data each winter. Specifically, he discussed a list from the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research, which ranks medical schools and hospitals based on how much funding they received from the National Institutes of Health. 

This year, the University of Minnesota Medical School ranked 24th out of all medical schools that won grant funding from the NIH. 

"Why is this important? These are critical outside resources we bring to Minnesota that support the research and discoveries that lead to healthier lives and better healthcare," Dr. Tolar said. 

In 2016, the university received state funding to form four "Medical Discovery Teams" to target issues afflicting the state: addiction, aging, brain health and rural/Indigenous healthcare. The next year, once the teams had formed, the university won $143 million in NIH awards. In 2023, it won $295 million — a 107% increase in funding despite a 43% increase to the overall NIH budget, per Dr. Tolar. 

Seeing the rankings allows the academic medical center to compare itself to peers and to remain competitive. It also helps attract and retain top faculty to develop new practices and provide better care, Dr. Tolar said. 

"Medical schools nationwide are competing for the same external funding and talented professionals. The U must demonstrate that our team, this institution and our state can provide the environment for groundbreaking research and innovative care not possible elsewhere," Dr. Tolar said. "That's what academic health and medicine are all about — the relentless pursuit of better care and outcomes for our patients." 

Read the full op-ed here.

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