KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Elite Medical Schools Rate Poorly On Social Mission

A new study ranking the social mission of medical schools puts historically black colleges on top and some Northeast private schools at the bottom.

"The study of 141 U.S. medical schools and 60,043 graduates, published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine" ranked the schools based on "how many of the schools' graduates practice in primary care, how many work in what are classified by the government as areas with a shortage of health professionals, and how many belong to minorities that don't have enough doctors serving them," Bloomberg Businessweek reports. According to the study, "the top performers were state-run universities and schools originally set up to teach minorities. The three highest-rated schools, including No. 1-ranked Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, were created to educate blacks."

Meanwhile, "[t]he top three medical schools for research in U.S. News & World Report's 2010 graduate-school rankings were Harvard in Boston, the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, in that order. Under the new metric, those three finished 62nd, 122nd and 129th, respectively" (Wechler, 6/14).

The Washington Post: "The United States faces a shortage of up to 100,000 primary-care doctors in 2020, six years after the health-care overhaul fully kicks in with more than 35 million newly insured Americans. Yet elite medical schools place a stronger focus on specialized medicine and research, the study said. They also lag in recruiting underrepresented minorities -- Latinos, Native Americans and African Americans -- who tend to fill the openings created by the shortage… The study tracked 6,000 medical students who graduated between 1999 and 2001, the most recent group to have finished college, hospital residencies and obligations, such as working in the National Health Service Corps to pay off student loans, [study author Fitzhugh] Mullan said" (Fears, 6/14).

Kaiser Health News: "John Prescott, Chief Academic Officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges, says that social mission ought to be looked at more broadly. The survey, says Prescott, 'produces an inaccurate and limited picture. Medical schools meet society's needs in many ways through their integrated missions in medical education, research and patient care.' He points to the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, which educates the military physicians who treat service men and women but ranks in the bottom twenty" (Gold, 6/14).

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