A number of high-performing medical schools that have withdrawn from the annual U.S. News & World Report rankings also have related hospitals that also regularly top the outlet’s “Best Hospitals” list. So, what might the medical school decampment mean for affiliated hospitals going forward?
Indeed, several medical schools have said their decisions to not participate in medical school rankings do not affect their related hospitals’ participation in the U.S. News “Best Hospitals” list.
The two sets of rankings have inherently different characteristics. The methodology for the medical school rankings involves surveying schools accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education or the American Osteopathic Association, according to U.S. News. Then that data, along with results from peer assessment surveys, are used to calculate overall rankings as well as eight medical field specialty rankings.
However, when it comes to hospital rankings, U.S. News evaluates each hospital’s performance using measures from data provided by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services as well as the American Hospital Association, professional organizations, and medical specialists, as previously reported by MedPage Today. “Hospitals do not submit data for any of our adult specialty rankings or [procedure and condition] rankings, including our general Best Hospitals rankings,” a spokesperson for U.S. News confirmed to MedPage Today in an email.
MedPage Today reached out to the 20 hospitals that comprised the most recent “Best Hospitals” honor roll list from U.S. News about their viewpoints in the wake of a number of medical school withdrawals. (A handful of these hospitals have had affiliated medical schools publicly state they will no longer participate in the U.S. News rankings.)
In an email to MedPage Today, a spokesperson said Mount Sinai Health System in New York City — whose Icahn School of Medicine has announced it will no longer participate in the medical school rankings — has not had any discussions about the “Best Hospitals” rankings at the present time.
“For now, our decision to withdraw applies only to the medical school rankings, but we will re-evaluate our participation in other U.S. News rankings over time,” Dennis Charney, MD, dean of the Icahn School of Medicine and president for academic affairs at Mount Sinai Health System, and David Muller, MD, dean for medical education at Icahn, stated in a public letter issued earlier this week.
A spokesperson for Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville told MedPage Today that, “while they may share the U.S. News name, we have viewed these rankings as separate measures,” declining further comment.
Other institutions noted additional nuance about the rankings.
“We are proud to be annually ranked (considered) as one of the very best medical schools in the United States and the world,” a spokesperson for Johns Hopkins Medicine wrote in an emailed statement. “We also know that rankings do not fully account for the many factors that distinguish one medical school from another. Like a number of our peer medical schools, we have concerns about the impact such rankings have on the decisions made by students. At this time, we are still sending information to U.S. News & World Report, but, as we do each year, we will consider our future participation.”
A spokesperson for NYU Langone Health told MedPage Today that the academic medical centers that said they will withdraw from U.S. News rankings “made a decision that is best for their institutions,” adding “we will do what is in the best interest of NYU Langone Grossman School of Medicine, our students, and our patients.”
A University of Michigan spokesperson noted there have been no changes to its current approach when it comes to the U.S. News rankings. Spokespersons for two other hospitals on the most recent “Best Hospitals” honor roll list referenced that the hospital rankings are compiled through the use of public data. Three other requests for comment were declined, and requests for comment to the remaining institutions regarding the hospital rankings were not immediately returned.
Several schools noted they may continue to be included on the medical school rankings, regardless of their decision to withdraw.
“In the near term, U.S. News is likely to continue ranking schools that have withdrawn by using publicly available data,” Charney and Muller of Mount Sinai wrote in part. “As we withdraw from the rankings, we are prepared to make significant investments to ensure that our vision, mission, values, and accomplishments define our reputation and are widely known. In the long term, we firmly believe that the many benefits that will accrue from the decision to withdraw will far outweigh the inequitable benefit that some schools have enjoyed as a result of the rankings.”
Based on last year’s schedule, the U.S. News medical school rankings are due to be published in March, followed by the hospital rankings in July.