Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Contact: Beverly McCoy, Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, 304-691-1713

Marshall’s med school ranks in nation’s top 20 on ‘social mission’ outcomes

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A groundbreaking national study published today (June 15) in the Annals of Internal Medicine ranks Marshall University’s medical school among the top 20 in the United States in fulfilling medical schools’ fundamental mission: training physicians to care for the nation’s population as a whole.

The George Washington University study breaks new ground by providing what the journal’s news release called “a real-time and real-place report” on doctors who graduated between 1999 and 2001: what their backgrounds are, where they work, and what kind of medicine they practice.            

Led by Dr. Fitzhugh Mullan, the researchers then calculated a “social mission score” for each medical school based on the percentage of graduates who practice primary care, who work in health professional shortage areas, or who are underrepresented minorities (since this group historically provides a disproportionate share of health care to the nation’s minority and underserved populations).

Marshall’s Dr. John Walden said the study offers a long-overdue look at how medical education performs in creating a physician workforce that effectively reaches the population to provide treatment and preventive care.

“It seems about time someone looked at these kinds of things,” said Walden, an associate dean and chairman of the Department of Family and Community Health. “The study is a positive take on rethinking, in part, priorities in medical education, and recognizing that improving the nation’s health is not necessarily so much about developing a new drug as about actually getting treatment to people.”

He was matter-of-fact about Marshall’s No. 16 rank. “Given where we are and the mission of our school, focusing on these delivery issues is second nature, not something we’ve had to be taught,” he said. “We’ve done this all along without even knowing we were doing it.”

Marshall University President Stephen J. Kopp, Ph.D., said the independent nature of the study is even stronger evidence that Marshall is a national leader in training physicians who meet the rural medicine mission of the university.

“This research independently confirms that Marshall’s medical school is serving the people of rural and medically underserved areas of West Virginia and the region through the education and placement of skilled physicians in these areas. We truly are continuing to fulfill the mission set forth for Marshall’s medical school when it was created,” Kopp said.

The researchers noted that the study results differ greatly from rankings based on indirect factors such as research funding and reputation surveys.

“We have essentially inverted the U.S. News and World Report rankings, for those of you that follow them,” Mullan told an audience at Dartmouth College in April, noting that those rankings are based heavily on research and reputation, rather than outcomes.

The dean of Marshall’s medical school, Dr. Charles H. McKown Jr., said the school’s distinction is especially valued since it results from unsolicited analytical and objective analysis.

“Dr. Mullan is one of the nation’s most experienced, insightful, authoritative physicians, and his expertise in this particular field is essentially unchallenged,” he said, adding that the Annals of Internal Medicine ranks “at absolutely the top” of national and international medical journals.

“Providing well-trained and highly skilled primary care physicians to practice in West Virginia remains the solid foundation of our mission,” he said. “We are very proud of our results, and also pleased with our contribution – with the state’s other two medical schools – toward making primary care accessible to people across West Virginia.”

For further information, contact:  Office of University Communications
Marshall University | 213 Old Main | Huntington, WV 25755-1090
Fax: (304) 696-3197