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America’s Best Medical Schools

A Renewed Critique of the U.S. News & World Report Rankings

McGaghie, William C. PhD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000002742
Invited Commentary: PDF Only

This Invited Commentary amplifies the continuing critique of the U.S. News & World Report rankings of U.S. medical schools and academic medical centers. The article begins with a critical quote about the medical school rankings published in this journal nearly 20 years ago and points out that little has changed in nearly two decades. The author then reports how the flawed rankings are performed and why U.S. medical school rankings are taken seriously; addresses the varied missions of U.S. medical schools; describes what really matters for success in medical school and professional life; sets a path forward to improve methods of medical school evaluation; and speaks to the irony of dismissing the rankings while still using them for marketing and fundraising. The article concludes with a critical argument about the U.S. News & World Report rankings not only of medical schools but also about schools across the learned professions.

W.C. McGaghie is professor of medical education and professor of preventive medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois; ORCID:

Acknowledgements: The author thanks S. Barry Issenberg and Diane B. Wayne for critical comments about earlier drafts of this commentary.

Funding/Support: None reported.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: Reported as not applicable.

Correspondence should be addressed to William C. McGaghie, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Department of Medical Education, McGaw Pavilion Suite 1-200, 240 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611; telephone (312) 503-3884; email:

© 2019 by the Association of American Medical Colleges