PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — The Warren Alpert Medical School will no longer submit data to U.S. News & World Report for its Best Medical Schools rankings, asserting that the rankings do not align with the Brown University medical school’s values or the qualifications or attributes it cultivates in training physicians.
In an August 29 letter to the medical school community, Dr. Mukesh K. Jain, Brown’s dean of medicine and biological sciences and senior vice president for health affairs, said the decision is based on “the flawed methodology of the rankings and their negative consequences on medical education.” With the support of Brown’s president and provost, the move comes after years of discussions about whether the rankings comport with the school’s holistic approach to evaluating applicants. In recent months, Jain wrote, the medical school’s leadership team deepened these discussions and consulted with current students, alumni and faculty as well as members of the University’s governing body, the Corporation of Brown University.
“Central to Brown’s decision to end participation is our belief that such quantitative rankings do not adequately capture the quality of education nor the level of support provided to students at any medical school,” Jain wrote. “The rankings also do not reflect the unique foci and missions of all medical schools, instead ranking them on factors that are not equally valued by all schools. At their worst, they perpetuate a culture of rewarding the most elite and historically privileged groups.”
The change will take effect in 2024, as the 2023 rankings have already been published. This decision comes as more than a dozen leading medical schools across the country have also decided to cease providing data to the U.S. News & World Report medical school rankings. While the reasons for no longer participating vary from school to school, at the core of these decisions, Jain noted, is a flawed methodology that disregards or devalues attributes that prepare Brown-trained physicians to care for patients.
Jain cited the U.S. News ranking’s emphasis on undergraduate GPAs and MCAT scores for each school’s enrolled medical students among the specific driving factors in the decision to withdraw.
“While these are two factors among many that can be considered in evaluating applicants, they do not necessarily measure holistically the qualities that will make an outstanding Brown-trained physician,” Jain wrote. “We weigh a much broader set of criteria in reviewing applicants to the Warren Alpert Medical School, recognizing that there are many measures of preparation for medical school and many paths toward a life and career in medicine.”
The Warren Alpert Medical School values humanism and compassion, innovation and discovery, and anti-racism, diversity and equity, as well as social responsibility, and community engagement and service, Jain said — traits that cannot be adequately measured by a quantitative ranking scale. There is also the argument, he noted, that the standardized metrics of the U.S. News rankings may create an incentive for schools to direct their financial aid dollars to the higher GPA, higher MCAT-scoring students who will boost their U.S. News ranking.