From Rankings to Mission

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Abstract

Since the 1980s, school ranking systems have been a topic of discussion among leaders of higher education. Various ranking systems are based on inadequate data that fail to illustrate the complex nature and special contributions of the institutions they purport to rank, including U.S. medical schools, each of which contributes uniquely to meeting national health care needs. A study by Tancredi and colleagues in this issue of Academic Medicine illustrates the limitations of rankings specific to primary care training programs. This commentary discusses, first, how each school’s mission and strengths, as well as the impact it has on the community it serves, are distinct, and, second, how these schools, which are each unique, are poorly represented by overly subjective ranking methodologies. Because academic leaders need data that are more objective to guide institutional development, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has been developing tools to provide valid data that are applicable to each medical school. Specifically, the AAMC’s Medical School Admissions Requirements and its Missions Management Tool each provide a comprehensive assessment of medical schools that leaders are using to drive institutional capacity building. This commentary affirms the importance of mission while challenging the leaders of medical schools, teaching hospitals, and universities to use reliable data to continually improve the quality of their training programs to improve the healthof all.

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