February 21, 2014

U.S. News releases first-ever list of top residency programs

Daily Briefing

U.S. News & World Report and the online physician community Doximity have released the first-ever physician survey identifying the nation's most highly regarded internal medicine residency programs.

The survey comes one week before senior medical students must identify and rank their top five choices for residency programs, a selection that the National Resident Matching Program will consider when assigning students to their programs on March 21. 

How the survey ranked programs

Doximity, an online network consisting of more than 250,000 physicians, asked 18,695 physicians who have completed residencies in internal medicine to submit up to five nominations for residency programs that they believe offer the best training in internal medicine. Between December of last year and Feb. 10, 3,410 internists submitted 9,174 nominations.

U.S. News notes that, unlike its list of top hospitals and medical schools, the survey results should not be considered a ranking or nationally representative. However, the magazine says the effort is the first major attempt to measure physicians' perspectives on residency programs. Survey responses represent 2.2% of the nation's internists providing care at 1,300 hospitals in each state except Alaska and Wyoming.

Which programs are the most highly regarded

The survey revealed that several postgraduate training programs have well reputed by many physicians. U.S. News identified the 24 programs with the most nominations, ranked by the number of nominations. The top 10 programs listed were:

    1. Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston (732 nominations)
    2. Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore (696)
    3. Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston (600)
    4. University of California in San Francisco (579)
    5. Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. (297)
    6. Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C. (283)
    7. Washington University/Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Mo. (249)
    8. University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia (248)
    9. New York Presbyterian Hospital (Columbia Campus) in New York (215)
    10. McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University in Chicago (201)

Not all top programs are the same

The survey found that the responses of practicing general internists were slightly discordant with those of subspecialists who had trained in internal medicine. Specifically, the practicing internists tended to favor UCSF over MGH and Johns Hopkins, suggesting that the schools may differ in how they prepare residents for certain tracks or vary in the type of candidates they attract.

Medscape ranks the highest—and lowest—paid specialties

The data also show that a larger percentage of UCSF's former residents are practicing as general internists rather than subspecialists. Harry Hollander, director of UCSF's internal medicine residency program, says more residents from UCSF's program have been pursuing careers in general internal medicine, including general practice and hospital medicine. By contrast, only half have sought out subspecialty fellowships.

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"That is probably lower than some of our peer programs and reflects the fact that we have two primary care tracks," with one focused on underserved populations, says Hollander. According to Doximity, up to 75% of former residents from MGH, Johns Hopkins, and Brigham & Women's now practice as subspecialists (Harder, U.S. News & World Report, 2/20; Rauber, "Bay Area Biz Talk," San Francisco Business Times, 2/20; Donnelly, "Health Care Inc. Boston," Boston Business Journal, 2/20).

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