Med school rankings are where the typical student starts to select a med school. We are obsessed with rankings, but DO School rankings matter? What is more important is if the medical school is a good fit for you.

In certain professionals, such as attorneys, your choice of school really does matter. It defines your career and affects where you do your 1st-year internship. Thereby determining where you get your first job.

Medicine is different. Which med school you go to has a small benefit in your residency application process. If you have top grades, high USMLE scores, and excellent letters of recommendation, you have the same chance of a top residency program as any student from any top-ranking school.

The U.S. News top medical school rankings are taken as an unquestionable truth. However, the Comlex Levels and USMLE Step exams level the playing field. For instance, Step 1 scores are not scored on a curve based on the medical school you attended.

For you, DO school rankings matter? You may prefer the prestige of certain schools on your diploma, but the true importance to the path of becoming a doctor lies with your residency. In your search for the right medical schools for you, consider the following:

1. Your needs might not coordinate with the medical school rankings.

Just about any accredited med school prepares you for several different residency programs. Medical school admissions experts advise researching residency matching trends among the schools you are considering.

“For instance, a school world-renowned for cancer care may have some residencies, like radiation oncology, that may not be present at a school whose mission is primary care (family medicine, pediatrics, general internal medicine),” says Quinn Capers IV, the associate dean for admissions at Ohio State University’s College of Medicine, in an email.

He continues with, “This would be important to know for a student who is interested in radiation oncology, because, with no residency in that field, there would be fewer opportunities for mentoring, shadowing and advice in that area.”

2. High med school ranking programs are exceptionally selective. For instance, Harvard has about a 4% acceptance rate. Most rankings favor research institutions who are often ranked by NIH funds they received.

3. Your colleagues and future patients will be more concerned about how good a physician you are instead of your school is in the top of the med school rankings list. Much research has been done on this topic, and it is generally found that patient satisfaction is based on their physician’s communication skills.

4. Forge your own career path. The popular med school rankings alone don’t give enough information to assess their programs. Dig for information. Compare graduate outcomes, the support the school offers, and their ratio of teacher-student.

Other helpful information is the percentage of students who passed the USMLE, what are the school’s accreditations, the percentage of students who graduate, and other questions about how many students get a residency placement.

5. Residency placement ranks the performance of the school. Where you went to school has little significance in earning a residency. Computer data is what matches students to residencies.

Medical directors use 35 factors that impact the computer data. For instance, the importance of your USMLE Step 1 scores is 82% of the 35 factors. Letters of recommendation rate as 77% important.

Personal statements, performance evaluations, and pre-med experience come in at 77% importance, and USMLE/Comlex Step 2 offers a 70% rating of importance.

What percentage of the 35 factors are determined by attending a high-ranking school? Here’s how important medical ranking is: highly regarded schools are 23rd importance with 53% of directors who say it matters.

You can outshine the competition with high test scores and GPAs, volunteering, extracurricular accomplishments, research, and shadowing doctors or nurses. The deal breaker is lack of community service on your part.


Contact IMA for health service opportunities in underprivileged communities abroad, opportunities to shadow doctors or nurses, and all of our volunteer programs that medical schools expect.