January 30, 2015—(BRONX, NY)—A newly developed method for assessing the quality of research-intensive medical schools puts Einstein in 13th place—in the top 10 percent of the nation's medical schools and much higher than its current 34th place ranking in the 2014 U.S. News & World Report (USN&WR) ratings. Physicians at Brigham and Women's Hospital and University of California San Francisco and the research director of Doximity, the largest medical professional network in the U.S., developed the new evaluation method, which was published January 21, 2015 in Academic Medicine.
In the study, titled "What Makes a Top Research Medical School? A Call for a New Model to Evaluate Academic Physicians and Medical School Performance," the authors noted that "patient outcome and quality measurements have become central to our health care system in the past decade," yet methods for ranking medical schools "have not provided parallel objective measures of medical school education in the United States." In developing their outcomes-oriented evaluation method, the authors relied on objective criteria that, they contend, should replace criteria used in the current USN&WR rankings system.
"Importantly, USN&WR's objective criteria evaluate the quality of matriculating students [including their MCAT scores and undergraduate grade point average] rather than assessing the value added by undergraduate medical education," they wrote. "In doing so, the rankings present an inaccurate and misleading assessment by focusing on criteria irrelevant to the aspiring medical student." They noted that USN&WR also uses subjective criteria such as a numerical rating by the deans of other medical schools.
"Correcting our medical school rankings system," the authors wrote, "may upset the existing academic hierarchy and challenge our current thinking about optimal evaluation methods of medical school performance."
The new model is meant to be comparable to USN&WR's "Best Medical Schools: Research" rankings. But unlike USN&WR, the new model focuses on medical schools' graduates—specifically, those graduates who become academic physicians and advance medicine through basic, clinical and translational research.
The authors collected data on more than 600,000 physicians and 127 medical schools through Doximity, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the American Medical Association's Physicians Masterfile, state medical boards, specialty boards, award databases and other sources. Each physician was given a score that incorporated data from four categories: publications, grants, clinical trials and awards/honors.
With respect to publications, for example, physicians were given points for each journal article published, with the point value weighted according to the journal's impact. Physicians were also given points for each NIH grant received, for each clinical trial in which they were named as principal investigator and for each award or honor they received (based on prestige and exclusivity). The authors then calculated the average scores of graduates from the same medical school for each of the four categories.
Many top institutions were found to rank high in both the new model and the 2014 USN&WR rankings. But the authors noted "important differences" between their ranking system and USN&WR's—and they singled out the results for Einstein: "For example, graduates from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University excelled at obtaining awards and NIH grants, which resulted in a rank of 13 in our analysis as compared with a rank of 34 in USN&WR."
"The public relies on our medical institutions to train the next generation of physicians, scientists and medical leaders," the authors concluded. "The backbone of our academic medical system is physicians' contribution to knowledge creation through research. Appropriately, many students are interested in pursuing research-intensive careers. Ensuring that these students have the skills and experiences they need for successful research careers should be a priority, and we believe that our rankings model can help identify institutions with a proven track record of success in producing such physicians."