According to the recently updated US News and World Report medical school rankings, there’s a new #1 medical school in Texas – UT Southwestern in Dallas. I was expecting Baylor Med’s rank to fall in 2010 but never anticipated it to regress to this degree.
I’ve received e-mails from people over the block (mostly current applicants) with regards to BCM’s future as a medical school. Some are speculating that the medical school and graduate school will split and be sold off to other institutions. Others are saying that the medical program will be abandoned entirely. While these sentiments may be a product of the Houston media, I personally feel they’re flat-out wrong. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to see how the general public is responding to Baylor College of Medicine.
As far as the new rankings, BCM is #33 in primary care and #24 in research (link to info). This is a pretty drastic drop from #17 in both primary care and research in 2009, but in all fairness, I think it can be ascribed, in part, to the hype of the Rice-Baylor Med merger (and other associated talks… like with Baylor University in Waco) falling through.
Dr. Butler, our interim president, was kind enough to share his views regarding the new ranks via an e-mail this morning. Here’s a section I found very interesting:
For the survey that was completed for last year’s ranking (2009), Baylor changed its reporting on NIH research dollars to include only the research activity in its primary affiliated hospitals. Consequently, we did not include NIH funding that M.D. Anderson Hospital receives which had been included through 2008. This resulted in a substantial decrease in the dollars reported in that category, but did not significantly change the college’s overall ranking last year because of the two-year average. This year, the change in the NIH research activity had a more significant impact. Based on our current NIH research grants, we will have much stronger numbers to submit for next year’s U.S. News survey.
This year’s U.S. News ranking does not measure what has been occurring in recent months as we faced a leadership change and financial difficulties. We have confronted those issues head on and I can assure you that BCM’s decline in this year’s U.S. News rankings does not reflect a decline in the quality of education. It is important that we remain focused on our plan for the future, share positive messages with our colleagues around the country, and not let this temporary fall in a listing cloud our thinking.
If U.S. News would factor in student success, you would see Baylor College of Medicine at or near the top based on the success of our students using any of a number of criteria including their pass rate on the U.S. Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) and their selection for residency training that I recently reported. In fact, it is important to note that our reputation score by residency program directors in the U.S. News survey rose from 3.8 in 2006 to 4.0 for the last two years, which indicates that BCM graduates are excelling in their residency training programs. The true measure of excellence of any medical school is in the achievements of its students.
I couldn’t agree more, Dr. Butler.