In a move from second place last year, the UNC School of Medicine was ranked first for their primary care program in U.S. News and World Report’s 2019 “Best Graduate Schools.”
Many other UNC graduate schools achieved high rankings, including the School of Social Work, School of Nursing and the Kenan-Flagler Business School. But no other graduate school rose to the top as the School of Medicine did in the U.S. News ranking.
U.S. News ranked graduate schools based on both expert opinion on program excellence and statistical indicators of quality. The School of Medicine stands out from other universities for its individualization of students’ educations, said Cristy Page, chairperson of the department of family medicine.
“The unique aspect of UNC's School of Medicine is that we have a number of pathways that allow students to individualize their medical school training, and so students interested in primary care have multiple options to grow and develop the skills that they need to be successful in the future as future primary care physicians,” Page said.
Julie Byerley, the vice dean for education and chief education officer in the School of Medicine, believes the ranking recognizes the school’s role in addressing the rural primary care workforce shortage with pipeline programs such as the FIRST (Fully Integrated Readiness for Service Training) track. FIRST is a three-year fast-track program into a UNC Family Medicine residency with a subsequent three years of service in North Carolina, which helps to create doctors who become an important part of their communities.
“That’s who we are at UNC,” Byerley said. “We are making real doctors on the ground in North Carolina that become pillars of their communities and leaders. And then we also are producing amazingly talented researchers who shape the science being done in our country. To have both of those things happen at the same institution means every learner here is stimulated to fulfill their potential.”
As learners come to the University, the high ranking reflects well on the future of the School of Medicine’s caliber of students, Page said.
“As we're ranked number one, it attracts the highest quality students, and the high quality students go on to be high quality doctors and that reflects well on the school,” Page said. “It's a beautiful cycle.”
Even with a number one ranking, there is still work to be done for Phil Sloane, associate chairperson of the department of family medicine.