Editor’s note: This article was updated June 19, 2023, to further specify the educational programs affected.
Dear School of Medicine community:
I am writing to let you know that, in consultation with Chancellor Martin and School of Medicine leadership, I’ve made the decision that we will no longer submit data to U.S. News & World Report (USNWR) to support their “best medical schools” MD Program survey and ranking.
This decision has been a long time coming. Over the four decades of USNWR rankings, medical education has undergone transformative changes. Here at WashU, we’ve adopted a curriculum that is expansive, prioritizing active, individualized learning paths and meaningful pedagogical relationships with peers and mentors. Our focus on the social determinants of health and the changing landscape of medical care in the U.S. prepares students to become the leaders we will need in the years ahead. As a medical school, we are constantly evolving and always striving for greater excellence because our highest and most important calling is to graduate doctors who are both highly trained and highly resilient, who can adapt to new realities and improve human health for everyone. Commercialized rankings have not kept up with these transformations. They recognize the values and aspirations of the past, not the skills and tools that will carry us into the future.
We have historically been proud of our high placement in these rankings because it served as shorthand for the educational excellence to which we continually aspire. But there comes a point at which participating in such a system can stand in the way of achieving our most important goals. The information upon which these rankings are based is too easily subject to manipulation and misrepresentation; the data is ultimately incapable of being validated and this includes the way USNWR measures research capabilities. Their methodology fails to account for so many of our most deeply held institutional values. It is flimsy scaffolding upon which to base our pride and satisfaction, and we have much firmer ground to stand on when it comes to evaluating our own success.
I know that even without our active participation, the U.S. News & World Report may well continue ranking us based on publicly available data, but it is time to stop participating in a system that does not serve our students or their future patients. To help prospective medical students evaluate whether WashU is the right school for them, we will begin independently reporting data about our performance and the full scope of the education that our medical students receive. I am certain that we will continue to welcome the brightest minds and future leaders in medicine.
David H. Perlmutter, MD
Executive Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs
Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Distinguished Professor
George and Carol Bauer Dean