The independent news organization of Duke University

Medical school drops by 2 in new ranking

The School of Medicine is once again ranked among the top 10 medical schools in the nation, according to this year's U.S. News & World Report graduate school rankings. The medical school fell two places this year; it is tied for sixth place with the University of California at San Francisco's medical school.

"We're delighted to be among the top 10 schools of the country as far as U.S. News & World Report ranks them," said Dr. Edward Holmes, dean of the School of Medicine and vice chancellor for academic affairs.

He added he is not concerned about the drop. "I am not sure that the difference between four and six is highly significant," he said.

Dean of Medical Education Dr. Dan Blazer noted the medical school's ranking has varied little over the past three years.

Even so, Holmes said he would like to see the medical school improve its ranking. "I would like to see us ranked first in everything we do," he said.

Calculations for the standings are based upon a weighted score of national reputation, research activity, student selectivity and faculty resources.

Many factors are not taken into account in the tabulations, Blazer said. For example, the medical school has been successful at recruiting greater numbers of under-represented minorities than many of its counterparts. Also, because the school has fewer faculty members than many of its competitors, it receives comparatively less research funding-$142.1 million to number five Yale's $179.8-and a relatively lower ranking.

The magazine also ranks the 124 medical schools in the U.S. along with 19 schools of osteopathic medicine for the quality of their instruction of primary care practices. This category replaces research activity scores with a number reflecting the school's percentage of graduates entering primary care residencies. Duke's medical school did not fare as well in this area-ranking 13th.

Blazer said that although medical school officials want to improve the school's primary care instruction, they will not focus their efforts on this project. "It's never going to be our primary mission," he said.

U.S. News also ranks the schools in eight areas of specialty instruction; the medical school ranked in the top 10 in four of these areas-fifth in women's health, fifth in geriatrics, fourth in internal medicine and 10th in pediatrics.

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