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

chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine.

The team found that small differences in calculations translated into big differences in primary care rankings between schools. In addition, the differences were reported without margins of error showing a school’s published ranking and its potentially true position. The authors estimated a typical margin of error to be 22 positions.

“Rankings were much more stable for the schools that were consistently in the top 20 during the four-year study period,” said Jerant. “In fact, the rankings for these schools were so stable it suggested an undue influence of long-standing reputation.”

Also of concern were the scores based on peer surveys of residency program directors and medical school deans.

“It simply isn’t possible for the typical respondent to be highly familiar with the education quality of all of the medical schools they are asked to judge,” said Jerant.

Perhaps in part for this reason, relatively few deans and residency directors respond to "U.S. News" surveys. During the timeframe of the study, response rates from medical school deans were lower than 50 percent, and response rates from residency directors were below 20 percent. These two components, however, made up 40 percent of a school’s final score.

The researchers were also troubled by the “graduates entering primary care” rate -- or the percentage of graduates who select primary care residencies following medical school -- that made up 30 percent of the overall score. "U.S. News & World Report" assumes that all medical school graduates who select residencies in family medicine, internal medicine or pediatrics end up practicing in one of these primary care fields. Most internal medicine residents and many pediatric residents go on to subspecialty training and never practice primary care, according to Jerant.

Another concern was a measure known as the “faculty/stud
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