If you are an educational institution in the 21st century you are going to be ranked at one point or another. But medical schools in America have decided they don’t like it.
An article in The Chronicle of Education (“‘U.S. News’ Seeks Medical Deans’ Input on Rankings, and Gets an Earful”) looks at the pushback the US News & World Report’s annual Best Medical School Rankings received from medical school deans. At a panel discussion that marked the first time US News has ever interfaced publicly with college deans about rankings, med school deans told US News that they wanted change.
The deans accused the magazine of using “one-size-fits-all measurements” when developing surveys for the rankings. They also claimed that the US News surveys use the wrong metrics, get low response rates and are based on “decades-old perceptions.” These inaccuracies upset med schools because prospective students have come to rely on the rankings more and more over the years. Jules L. Dienstag, dean of medical education at Harvard University, explained: “I would feel really bad for a student who made his or her decision about where to go to medical school based only on your rankings…These rankings are very, very nongranular, and they don’t try to help the student find the best place for him or her. ”
However, US News (“U.S. News Holds Historic Meeting With Medical School Deans”) defended their rankings of medical schools, saying that it is a work in progress and they are constantly trying to improve their ranking system. They also promised to take the deans’ criticisms into account in future. While the deans “may not like being ranked,” Robert J. Morse, the magazine’s director of data research, explains, students also don’t like being graded. Ranking is always going to be a complicated business.
But the question becomes how valid are the criteria that the rankings are using. While the deans will have to get used to receiving “grades,” their “push back” publicizes weaknesses in the rankings that are finally getting noticed, and should be given more weight by the ultimate consumers of the rankings: medical school applicants.