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Atlantis students walking out of the entrance of the hospital (Genoa, Italy, 2019).

Applying to Med/PA School

Best Medical Schools: A Comparison of Different Rankings

Alexia profile

About Alexia

Alexia Katsaros is a Purdue graduate (’21) and a pre-medical student enjoying a gap year on the Atlantis admissions team. As an undergraduate, she majored in psychology and minored in biology and sociology. In the summer of 2019, she shadowed doctors at KAT hospital when she journeyed to Athens, Greece through the Atlantis shadow abroad program.

When you’re on the hunt for the medical schools you want to apply to, there is a lot to consider. Some schools prioritize research, while others focus on bringing aid to underserved communities. For some students, location is everything. Moreover, some schools are attractive because they are top-tier, world-renowned institutions. Whatever your preferences are, it is extremely important that you understand that different criteria will ultimately rank schools along different lines. To help you determine the best ranked medical schools, I have decided to break them down into some of the criteria that distinguish them. I’ll also include a list of the best ranked medical schools at the very end. By laying it out like this, I hope to encourage you to think critically about what you value most in a medical school and see how your wishes can realistically be fulfilled.

Most Diverse Schools 

Diversity has always been high on my list of desired medical school traits. As a pre-med, I made it my mission to seek the unfamiliar. When I shadowed abroad with Atlantis, I was able to surround myself with a culture that I did not grow up in. When volunteering and shadowing domestically, I stepped out of my comfort zone to help people who were in situations vastly different from my own. Diverse experiences truly open your worldview and make you a more empathetic person which is definitely advantageous to your future career in medicine. According to US News, these medical schools have been ranked by their diverse student bodies.

  1. Howard University
  2. University of Vermont, Larner
  3. Florida International University, Wertheim
  4. University of California, Davis
  5. University of New Mexico
  6. University of California, Riverside
  7. Ohio State University
  8. University of Miami, Miller
  9. University of California, Los Angeles (Geffen)

Schools with Graduates Practicing in Rural Areas 

There is a nationwide shortage of doctors practicing in rural areas. Since rural health care practitioners are in such high demand, they often start out with competitive salaries. If you would like to help in rural areas of the country, I would strongly consider checking out the schools listed below. The campuses are either located rurally or are in states with a larger rural population. 

  1. University of Pikeville
  2. William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine
  3. University of Mississippi
  4. A.T. Still University of Health Sciences, Kirksville
  5. University of Nebraska Medical Center
  6. University of South Dakota, Sanford
  7. Des Moines University
  8. Rocky Vista University
  9. University of North Dakota
  10. Oklahoma State University 

Best Research Schools 

If you value it, you might want to apply to the programs listed below. Schools that are superior in research are not always as strong in other areas, so make sure you take note of that when trying to find the schools that interest you.

  1. Harvard University
  2. New York University, Grossman
  3. Duke University
  4. Columbia University
  5. Stanford University
  6. University of California, San Francisco
  7. Johns Hopkins University
  8. University of Washington
  9. University of Pennsylvania, Perelman
  10. Yale University

Best Primary Care Schools 

Primary care always has a huge demand. If you are interested in primary care, check out the list of schools below. They have the top primary care programs in the country and might give you a competitive edge when it comes to establishing yourself outside of medical school. 

  1. University of Washington
  2. University of California, San Francisco
  3. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  4. Oregon Health and Science University
  5. University of Minnesota
  6. University of Colorado
  7. University of Nebraska Medical Center
  8. Harvard University
  9. University of Kansas Medical Center
  10. University of Massachusetts, Worcester

Schools With the Best Surgery Programs 

When I was in Athens, Greece through my Atlantis 360 shadowing trip, I was able to observe some amazing surgeons. Some of the methods used in the hospital I shadowed in, KAT, were quite unlike the practices I had heard of and seen taking place in the States. I realized how important top surgical training can be for the outcome of the patient and the effectiveness of the treatments the physicians perform on them. Pursuing a medical education at schools with quality surgical programs is a surefire way to become an excellent surgeon in the future.

  1. Johns Hopkins University
  2. Duke University
  3. Harvard University
  4. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  5. University of California, San Francisco
  6. University of Pennsylvania, Perelman
  7. Stanford University
  8. Columbia University
  9. University of California, Los Angeles
  10. Washington University in St. Louis

Best Overall Medical School

I’ve taken this list off Shemassian Academic Consulting. I generally agree with this top-tier school listing; in my searches, and from my own experiences, I know that these schools, such as Harvard and Johns Hopkins, are simply the best of the best. I really like how this table highlights everything you should know about these schools, from the average matriculant GPA to the class size. All these schools are the most competitive, and arguably offer the most esteemed training programs in the world.

With the different rankings listed above, I hope I have shown you how not all medical schools are created equally. Take the time to figure out what you really value in a medical school, based on some of the criteria above, and use that to help guide you in your application and decision-making process.

Cover of the Medical School Admissions Guide.

Two Atlantis alumni admitted to Top 5 MD programs wrote our widely read medical school admissions guidebook guidebook — download yours.

Our Alumni Enter Great Medical Schools

John Daines headshot.

John Daines

  • Atlantis '17
  • Brigham Young University '19
  • Washington U. in St. Louis MD '23
Zoey Petitt headshot.

Zoey Petitt

  • Atlantis '17
  • U. of Arizona '18
  • Duke MD '23
Yong hun Kim headshot.

Yong-hun Kim

  • Atlantis '17
  • Stanford '19
  • Mayo Clinic MD '24
Megan Branson headshot.

Megan Branson

  • Atlantis '18
  • U. of Montana '19
  • U. of Washington MD '24
Sarah Emerick headshot.

Sarah Emerick

  • Atlantis '19
  • Eckerd College '20
  • Indiana U. MD '25
Snow Nwankwo headshot.

Snow Nwankwo

  • Atlantis '19
  • Catholic U. of America '21
  • Georgetown U. MD '26
Tiffany Hu headshot.

Tiffany Hu

  • Atlantis '16
  • U. of Maryland '17
  • U. of Michigan MD '22
Lauren Cox headshot.

Lauren Cox

  • Atlantis '18
  • Louisiana Tech '20
  • U. of Arkansas MD '24
Kayla Riegler headshot.

Kayla Riegler

  • Atlantis '18
  • U. of Kentucky '20
  • U. of Kentucky MD '24

About Atlantis

Atlantis is the leader in pre-health shadowing and clinical experience, offering short-term programs (1-10 weeks) over academic breaks for U.S. pre-health undergraduates. Medical schools want 3 things: (1)healthcare exposure, (2)GPA/MCAT, and (3)certain competencies. Atlantis gives you a great version of (1), frees you to focus on (2), and cultivates/shows (3) to medical school admissions committees.

A student smiling and learning how to kayak.

Watch Video: The Atlantis Shadowing Experience and How it Helps In Your Med/PA Admissions Future

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Cover of the Medical School Admissions Guide.
Two Atlantis alumni admitted to Top 5 MD programs wrote our widely read medical school admissions guidebook — download yours.