UTSW among the best medical schools for primary care in U.S. News rankings

By Lin Lofley

U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate School badge 2018

UT Southwestern Medical School recently tied for eighth in the United States among the best medical schools for primary care, according to U.S. News and World Report.

“These rankings are great news for the Medical School as a whole,” said Dr. Angela Mihalic, Associate Dean for Student Affairs. “Recently, UT Southwestern revised the curriculum in part to emphasize excellence in primary care, including a new ambulatory care clerkship and a distinction track in Community Health led by faculty members who have dedicated themselves in the five specialties that fall under the Primary Care heading – Pediatrics, Family and Community Medicine, Internal Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Internal Medicine and Pediatrics.”

The U.S. News rankings – which are based on faculty resources, a peer assessment score, and program selectivity statistics, along with other calculations – are part of the publication’s reports for 2018. The news arrived as UT Southwestern nears the halfway point for students who are progressing through a new Medical School curriculum that started in the fall of 2015.

“Our goal is to offer a meaningful, broad, and intensive exposure to a wide variety of ambulatory care settings,” said Dr. Adrian Salazar, Co-Director of the Ambulatory Care Clerkship, and Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine, who works with Co-Director Dr. Heidi Roman, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, on the program. “We want to enhance clinical skills and knowledge related to primary care, as well as awareness of primary care as a career.

“Most medical practice is outpatient-based, and we want our students to have a rich hands-on experience that’s different from what they see in the hospital. The response from students has thus far been very positive, with many sharing that they are now considering career options in ambulatory medicine.”

One especially beneficial feature of the new curriculum at UT Southwestern is that medical students are placed into hospitals and clinics earlier in their educational journey, where they are already making a difference in the lives of patients.

The revised curriculum has quickly become a touchstone for success across the laboratories and classrooms of the UT Southwestern campus.

“It enhances the integration of our basic science education with patient care training and experience,” said Dr. Mihalic, also Professor of Pediatrics. “It offers longitudinal outpatient clinical experiences and ensures that each student has an opportunity to grow in diverse areas through additional electives and varied scholarly activities.

“The pathways are designed to provide an integration of health economics, multiculturalism, and an understanding of the future frontiers of science, as they continue their career of lifelong learning. These advancements will continue to strengthen our positioning among the top medical schools in primary care and research.”

UT Southwestern was one of just eight schools in the nation to achieve a Top 10 ranking in Primary Care and a Top 25 ranking in Research.

You can count Romero Santiago – a fourth-year medical student who has matched in Family and Community Medicine with the University of California, Davis, Medical Center in Sacramento – as one unsurprised at the ranking. Mr. Santiago, a son of Sri Lankan immigrant parents, came to UT Southwestern intent on learning a primary care specialty, and he’ll leave in June with a medical degree and a readiness to take his first steps as a newly minted clinician.

“I believe there are several aspects to the educational experience at UT Southwestern that make this institution special,” Mr. Santiago said. “First, the diverse patient population at our teaching hospitals provides an incredibly rich learning environment. Students get to see so many manifestations of illness and how socio-economic and mental health factors come into play in the treatment course for these families and subpopulations. It offers a complex level of care that is essential for future primary care physicians to see in order to understand.

“Also, the level of trust provided to us as medical students is truly second to none, and we have very enriching experiences available to us in all the primary care disciplines.”

On Match Day, the UT Southwestern Medical School Class of 2017 placed 53 soon-to-be graduates in Internal Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Internal Medicine and Pediatrics programs around the country, as well as 22 in Pediatrics and 11 in Family Medicine. Of those, 17 will continue their training in the Southwestern Medical District.