Fitzhugh Mullins published an article this week in which he evaluates the ability of medical schools to respond to the “social mission.” In it, he uses a metric to measure the medical schools contribution to solving the following societal problems: an insufficient number of primary care physicians, geographic maldistribution of physicians, and the lack of a representative number of racial and ethnic minorities in medical schools and in practice. Using only physicians who have been in practice for 10 years, he determines which schools are good at this and which schools…um… not so good.

I bring this up not just because my school (the University of South Alabama) is the 8th best in our students doing the right thing, but also because it is an important story. As was pointed out on NPR’s healthcare blog

Medical schools, Chen explains, often claim whether students choose primary care has a lot more to do with financial worries – including paying off student loans – than with how the schools operate. “But the variation shows that some medical schools are obviously doing it better than others,” she says.  “It allows us to give credit to medical schools that are doing the hard work, the good work, the social mission work. Medical schools have traditionally not gotten a lot of credit for this work.”

We will debate the relative importance of the many missions of the Academic Health Center for several years yet but is is good to be in the top 10 of something.