School of Medicine and Dentistry Ranks High in New Model to Evaluate Medical Schools

Mar. 15, 2015


The School of Medicine and Dentistry ranks 12th nationally in a new ranking designed to evaluate medical schools and academic physicians. The new model, detailed in the journal Academic Medicine, analyzes publications, grants, clinical trials and awards or honors for medical school graduates to arrive at a ranking that the authors argue is based on more relevant and objective criteria than those that dominate the current ranking systems.
The well-known yearly analysis performed by U.S. News & World Report has become the main tool to compare U.S. medical schools, but the rankings of research medical schools rely heavily on subjective surveys and premedical student performance measures, including assessment scores from medical school deans, undergraduate grade-point averages and school acceptance rates. Although U.S. News’ research schools rankings incorporate total NIH funding and NIH dollars-per-faculty-member, these factors account for 15 percent of the total score. UR’s medical school ranked 34th in the 2016 U.S. News rankings.
In the new system, authors from Harvard, the University of California at San Francisco, and Doximity, Inc. take a different approach that incorporates information from several publicly accessible databases including PubMed, the National Library of Medicine’s database of published medical research; NIH RePORTER, the federal database of grants awarded by NIH; and, a national database of clinical trials. The model analyzes data from physician graduates from 1950 to 2009.
The authors write that the model is “intended to demonstrate the feasibility of an outcomes-based approach to evaluating medical schools’ ability to produce academic physicians who go on to successful biomedical research careers.” Mark Taubman, M.D., Dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry and CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center, adds that this is an interesting new method that better addresses the quality of graduates we produce and their contributions to medicine.
The authors note that the model has several limitations, such as a lack of grant data from non-NIH sources and a lack of publication data from journals not indexed by PubMed. It only includes the number of NIH grants rather than the total dollar amount of the NIH grants an institution receives, which would more accurately reflect total research effort. Despite these caveats, the authors hope to improve the quality of institutions, medical education and patient care by fueling a national discussion about the most meaningful criteria that should be measured and reported.