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After an aberration last year, the Alpert Medical School jumped 21 spots to 28th in the U.S. News and World Report primary care rankings. Except for last year, when it ranked 49th, the Med School's primary care ranking has hovered in the 20s for the past several years.

It also jumped three spots in the research ranking this year, from 32nd to 29th. The research ranking depends in part on funding from the National Institutes of Health, said Edward Wing, dean of medicine and biological sciences. The increase in the research ranking over recent years "represents what Brown has done, which is to improve its reputation steadily in research," he said.

The Med School ranks 28th in primary care, a category determined by academic reputation. Factors in the rankings include grade point average, MCAT scores, faculty-to-student ratio and percentage of graduating students entering careers in primary care. "Brown has always ranked very high in that," Wing said.

From 2007 to 2011, the Med School ranked between 23rd and 29th in primary care every year except for 2010, when its ranking dropped to 49th. "The only thing we can think of is it must have been some mistake. It's not consistent with the previous four or five years," Wing said. "Nothing happened here in terms of something unusual in primary care."

In an email to The Herald, Robert Morse, director of data research for U.S. News and World Report attributed the dramatic swing in Alpert's primary care rankings to a change in the way the Med School reports the percentage of students entering primary care residencies. Wing did not respond to a follow-up request for comment on Morse's explanation.

Wing is pleased with both of the Medical School's rankings, he said. "In both of the categories we're in the top quarter of medical schools in the country. … Our students are terrific, and we keep getting better each year."

"Unlike some other very established schools which don't change very much, we're a dynamic school, which is on the move," he said.


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