Meharry, ETSU rank high for medical social mission
Posted: Wednesday, June 16, 2010 8:01 pm
NASHVILLE (AP) — A study ranking the social mission of U.S. medical schools notes that Meharry Medical College and East Tennessee State University are among the best at producing primary care physicians that serve needy areas and are minorities.
The Tennessean reported that the study in Tuesday’s edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine also said Vanderbilt University Medical Center had the worst ranking based on data collected about graduates from 141 medical schools from 1999 to 2001.
Three areas were analyzed to determine the schools’ social mission — the percentages of graduates who practice in primary care, those who worked in areas with a shortage of doctors and graduates who represented minority groups.
Nashville’s Meharry was ranked second in the report and researchers found that 49.3 percent of graduates were primary care physicians, compared to 21.9 percent of Vanderbilt graduates.
“This study, in a very elegant way, validates the fact that we are truly a national treasure,” said Dr. Wayne Riley, president and chief executive officer of Meharry. “It really does a very nice job of looking at where medical school graduates practice, how many enter primary care and stay in primary care and how they serve the underserved.”
ETSU’s Quillen College of Medicine in Johnson City was ranked 12th. More than half — 53.5 percent — of Quillen graduates went into primary care practice, the study found.
“It’s exciting when Quillen is recognized for staying true to its roots,” Dr. Philip C. Bagnell, dean of the College of Medicine, said in a statement. “A physician can experience a high degree of professional self-satisfaction practicing medicine in a rural community, and our curriculum is designed to illustrate that to our students.”
But according to Vanderbilt, the study doesn’t offer a complete picture of the mission of its medical school.
“The findings are outdated and do not capture the vast number of initiatives that Vanderbilt has implemented over the last decade to meet the health care needs of the region, including a major focus on training physicians representing diverse populations,” said Bill Hance, assistant vice chancellor for news and communications at the medical center.
In 2002, Vanderbilt created the Office of Diversity in Medical Education and currently 25 percent of the students in the incoming class come from groups that are underrepresented in medicine, Hance said.
Also, as a teaching facility, Vanderbilt serves other roles that can contribute to society, he said.
“Vanderbilt University Medical Center provides nearly half of all uncompensated care in Davidson County,” Hance said.
The study was authored by researchers at George Washington University and the work was funded by a grant from the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation.
Dr. Candice Chen, a co-author and an assistant professor of pediatrics and health policy at GWU, said medical schools do a lot of different things that benefit society.
“For example, the research these schools put out is extremely important, but it doesn’t have to be an either-or situation,” Chen said. “You can do high-level research as well as fulfill the social mission.”
Dr. John Prescott, chief academic officer for The Association of American Medical Colleges, said the ranking creates and inaccurate and limited picture.
“Medical schools meet social missions in various ways through their integrated missions in medical education, research and patient care,” he said. “It is important for each medical school to set its own social mission and for each to look at whether the medical school is meeting the mission it was designed to do.”
Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com
Published in The Messenger 6.16.10