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Are the 'U.S. News' Medical School Rankings for Primary Care Education Relevant?
Date:7/9/2013

Sacramento, California (PRWEB) July 09, 2013

The "U.S. News & World Report" graduate school rankings inspire discussion and marketing, but do they actually reflect quality differences between schools when it comes to medical education in primary care?

Researchers at the UC Davis School of Medicine are believed to be the first to take on that question by analyzing the primary care rankings from 2009 through 2012, reconstructing scores and proposing alternative measurements. Their findings are published online now, ahead of the August 13 print issue of the journal "Academic Medicine."

Printed annually in the "America’s Best Graduate Schools" guidebook, the "U.S. News & World Report" rankings compare medical school education programs in research, primary care and a few specialties. The goal is to help potential medical students evaluate their options by providing information on the relative quality of the training programs at various schools.

The publication’s primary care rankings are based on weighted averages of two types of measures: statistical data, including students’ MCAT scores and undergraduate GPAs, and expert opinions, including peer assessments from medical school deans and residency program directors.

One of the researchers’ major findings was that the primary care rankings for most of the 89 schools below the top 20 shifted dramatically over the four-year study period. Half of these schools had at least 17 positions separating their best and worst annual ranking in that brief span.

“These huge shifts in such short timeframes cannot be plausibly attributed to actual changes in quality,” said senior author Anthony Jerant, professor in the UC Davis Department of Family and Community Medicine. Jerant’s collaborators on the research were his UC Davis colleagues Daniel Tancredi, assistant professor of pediatrics, and Klea Bertakis,
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