New JAMA Article Navigates Changes to US News’ Medical School Rankings

Submitted on Fri, 11/19/2021 - 16:36

U.S. News & World Report releases medical school rankings each year which have significant influence on institutional reputations. In 2021, U.S. News made a major shift in their data sources and measures that resulted in rankings to reflect a broader range of social mission metrics.

A recent JAMA Health Forum article, Increasing Transparency for Medical School Primary Care Rankings–Moving from a Beauty Contest to a Talent Show, describes these new data sources and goes into detail about their manner of implementation.

Authors Robert Phillips, MD, Founding Executive Director of the Center for Professionalism and Value in Health Care,  Andrew Bazemore, MD, Senior Vice President for Research and Policy for the American Board of Family Medicine, and Jack Westfall, MD, Director of the American Academy of Family Physicians’ Robert Graham Center, provide valuable insight into the ranking process and discuss how greater transparency can lead to increased medical student diversity, greater focus on identifying true primary care production, and the addition of assessment of social mission across U.S. medical schools.

The authors emphasize that changes to the source and weight of data for the global primary care ranking were a step in the right direction, but the addition of four new primary care rankings was an even greater success for Family Medicine rankings nationwide.

These new rankings (Graduates Practicing in Primary Care, Student Diversity, Graduates Practicing in Medically Underserved Areas, and Graduates Practicing in Rural Areas) highlight the important contributions of many schools which were largely hidden in past rankings.

A broader assessment of medical school outcomes, as reflected in this new ranking model, could inform the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) in determining the resource allocation to medical schools based on their contribution to increasing the primary care workforce, especially in safety-net settings and rural areas.

The authors believe that these changes made by U.S. News & World Report have shifted importance towards the social mission measures of medical schools in comparing their outcomes. It is an important start for primary care, and more work remains to be done to assess the impact of these rating changes. Read the article here: Increasing Transparency for Medical School Primary Care Rankings–Moving from a Beauty Contest to a Talent Show

For more information, please email [email protected]