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National study ranks OU-COM high for social mission

College ranks 22nd in country for percentage of minority graduates

July 1, 2010

(ATHENS, Ohio) The Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-COM) ranks in the top third in the country for graduating new physicians who work in underserved areas and who are from underrepresented minorities, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine

“The Social Mission of Medical Education: Ranking the Schools,” which appeared in the June 15, 2010, edition of the journal, ranked OU-COM 38th out of 141 medical schools nationwide, for its social mission. The college ranked 22nd for the percentage of its graduates who are from minority and underrepresented populations, making OU-COM the top-ranked osteopathic medical school in this regard.

The social mission score, according to the article, is a composite of three metrics measuring the percentage of each college’s graduates, from a set number of years,  who work in primary care, who work in physician-shortage areas, and who are  from underrepresented minority groups.

Part of OU-COM’s mission, according to Dean Jack Brose, D.O., is to emphasize primary care and to improve the well-being of underserved populations, including serving the health care needs of people in Appalachian Ohio.

“We continue to achieve our mission of producing not only primary care physicians, who are the most-needed physicians across the country, but also physicians who practice in areas where they are needed the most, such as Southeastern Ohio,” Brose said. “This study provides a more accurate reflection of the type of medicine—and where—our graduates are practicing.”

According to a recent survey by OU-COM’s Office of Medical Development and Alumni Relations, more than 60 percent of the college’s graduates practice in Ohio, with some 44 percent working in rural and underserved communities of fewer than 50,000 residents. Fifty-two percent of OU-COM alumni practice in primary care fields.

Authors of the study obtained publicly available information about practising physicians who graduated between 1999 to 2001 as a basis for their research.  This time range was chosen in order to capture the most recent cohort of alumni who had completed all types of residency training and national service obligations, according to the article.

In Ohio, only the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine ranked higher than OU-COM. 

In a reference to the annual U.S. News & World Report medical school rankings, the authors concluded, “School rankings based on the social mission score differ from those that use research funding and subjective assessments of school reputation. These findings suggest that initiatives at the medical school level could increase the proportion of physicians who practice primary care, work in underserved areas, and are underrepresented minorities.”

“Some schools may choose other priorities,” the authors stated, “but in this time of national reconsideration, it seems appropriate that all schools examine their educational commitment regarding the service needs of their states and nation.”

The study found that osteopathic medical schools, those in rural areas, and those that are publically funded rank higher than traditional “marquee” medical institutions.

OU-COM ranked 47th in its output of primary care physicians and 68th for the percentage of graduates now working in underserved areas, out of the 141 medical schools included in the study.

Brose noted that the latter number is “amazing” given that many osteopathic medical schools in the study ranked low in the percentages and numbers of minority graduates. In 2008/2009, the dean said, the Ohio Board of Regents singled out OU-COM for graduating the highest percentage and numbers of African-American and Hispanic graduates of the state’s medical schools. “I’m very proud of that record,” he said.

Minority students make up 26 percent of this year’s entering class.

“A diverse, equitably distributed physician workforce with a strong primary care base is essential to achieve quality health care that is accessible and affordable, regardless of the nature of any future health care reform,” the Annals of Internal Medicine article concluded.

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