For many students, medical school rankings play a role in deciding which schools you apply to. But what do the rankings tell you about these schools? And just how important are they in your career?
How are schools ranked?
Medical schools are ranked according to several criteria including peer assessment, residency director assessment, total research activity, average research activity per faculty member, number of students entering careers in primary care, mean MCAT, mean GPA, acceptance rates, and faculty resources. A med school’s rank is one indication of reputation and quality of education. It also emphasizes the school’s own medical focus, whether it be academic research or primary care.
How important are the rankings?
Regardless of what medical school you attend, every medical student will learn the same material and be subjected to the same board examinations and residency matching process. Attending a top medical school may increase a student’s chance of matching with a particularly competitive specialty (i.e. dermatology or plastic surgery), but ultimately, opportunities and income are far more dependent on a physician’s specialty rather than his or her medical school ranking.
These rankings are more important for physician-scientists interested in MD-PhD programs, who need to find schools that offer abundant research opportunities. But for aspiring MD-PhD’s and MD’s alike, ranking must be considered alongside factors such as likelihood of acceptance, location, curriculum, and finances. Going to a top ranked medical school rather than your home state’s public institution might be tempting, but calculating a tuition difference of tens of thousands of dollars might make you think twice about your decision. At the end of the day, patients want a doctor who is competent, compassionate, and communicative, regardless of where you went to school.
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