The competition to get into medical school is fierce. The Association of American Medical Colleges just announced that this year, nearly 50,000 students applied for just over 20,000 positions at the nation’s 141 MD-granting schools – a record. But medical schools do not have a monopoly on selectivity. The average student applies to approximately 15 schools, and many are accepted by more than one. Students attempting to sort out where to apply and which admission offer to accept face a big challenge, and they often look for guidance to medical school rankings.
Among the organizations that rank medical schools, perhaps the best-known is US News and World Report (USNWR). It ranks the nation’s most prestigious schools using the assessments of deans and chairs (20%), assessments by residency program directors (20%), research activity (grant dollars received, 30%), student selectivity (difficulty of gaining admission, 20%), and faculty resources (10%). Based on these methods, the top three schools are Harvard, Stanford, and Johns Hopkins.
Rankings seem important, but do they tell applicants what they really need to know? I recently sat down with a group of a dozen fourth-year medical students who represent a broad range of undergraduate backgrounds and medical specialty interests. I posed this question: How important are medical school rankings, and are there any other factors you wish you had paid more attention to when you chose which school to attend?