All medical schools are created equal and that equality is assured by the National Board of Medical Examiners and the accrediting authority, the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. People who allege one medical school is better than another, based on the education provided, are wrong. If any medical school was inferior to another it would lose its accreditation or, stated another way, no medical school is permitted to graduate a majority of “C” students while other schools graduate a majority of “A” students. All medical schools are required to administer the NBME’s Shelf Exams at the end of each class. These exams are scored by the NBME, not the schools. If Harvard produced superior results to the Medical College of Georgia, do you think that MCG wouldn’t adopt Harvard’s curriculum or that MCG would be continued to be allowed to produce inferior doctors?
Would you accept that a Volkswagen was the best car based on 5 people saying that it was the best car? Would your opinion change if all 5 worked for Volkswagen? Many people respond to questions about “the best medical schools” and cite the US News and World Report’s annual article about medical school rankings. They don’t have a clue how the magazine made those determinations. In the most recent published rankings list there were as little as five respondents and those were all medical school college Deans. Hardly a statistically valid sampling, wouldn’t you agree? Why were there so few respondents? Because the Association of American Medical Colleges objects to the criteria used and the method of sampling, so the majority of medical schools refuse to participate.
If you’re going to become a physician you need to know the source of any data you’re going to rely on or prove it yourself–and in this case, the information is readily available on the Internet–all you have to do is Google it.
To correct some other misinformation–all medical schools have to have research opportunities available for medical students (it’s an accreditation requirement). At primary care oriented schools the research is an option. At research oriented medical schools it is mandatory and the focus for the students is not the research itself but the proper scientific method for conducting and reporting how research is done. The research is done by both instructors (that’s one of the carrots used to attract top research scientists to teach at medical schools) and paid researchers.
In addition, most medical researchers have advanced science degrees, not just the MD.
So why do the Harvards and Johns Hopkins of the world have reputations as being “the best”? It’s a three part answer. First, the “best” known names have earned their reputations on the quality of the residency programs provided (and residency programs have nothing to do with a medical school), the quality, number and types of research conducted (again, nothing to do with the medical school itself) and the medical centers associated with each program. Secondly, the history of the Ivy League schools arises from over a century ago when only the wealthy could afford to go to college. As the economy changed and more of the ‘common’ people could afford college, the “Ivy League” schools raised their tuition to keep out the riff-raff, thus maintaining their standard of catering to society’s elite class. But many of the programs at Ivy League schools do produce superior graduates. The MBA programs at Harvard and Wharton are the ‘Gold” standard in business. The law programs at Princeton and Yale are also “Gold’ standards. The same for engineering, physics, etc,, but not medicine. Medicine is the only specialty that has a quality assurance governing authority. Third, reputations are really marketing’s sleight of hand. For example, the National Insitute of Health is the other often-cited ranking system for medical schools. However, this ‘ranking’ is based on the amount of research dollars given to each school, which, again, has nothing to do with the quality of the education provided at a school. But that doesn’t stop some schools from claiming “We’re # X according to the NIH”.
So, to answer your question in a different way, would you be heads above other people with a degree from an Ivy League school? Maybe to the naive. But the medical community only cares where you did your residency, as that denotes the quality of your education. You can spend $50,000/semester at an Ivy League school or less than $20,000/semester at your own state’s university medical school and both will get you to your MD. The name of the school on your diploma doesn’t get you into the better residency programs. What does get you in are the scores you obtain on the USMLE exams and the quality of the reviews you received during your clinical rotations.
One last little poke in the ribs–UCLA came to the University of Maryland to copy UM’s Emergency Medicine residency program and that’s why the University