A great title.

Social Mission & Medicine

In 2010, a group led by Fitzhugh Mullan compiled a provocative ranking of medical schools based on a “social mission score.” The criteria used in calculating the index for medical schools were

  • output of primary care physicians
  • doctor-graduates serving in underserved areas
  • number of minority physicians trained

This was a through-the-looking-glass approach to ranking medical schools, since it practically inverted the traditional rankings. The schools usually at the top of the U.S. News & World Report rankings (based on research dollars and reputations, among myriad other factors) were all near the bottom of Mullan’s list.

The article caused a stir in both the media and in academic medical circles. It was nice recognition for state schools and historically black medical colleges that emphasize training primary care doctors to serve in their communities. The schools at the bottom of the list were forced to explain why their missions, although different, still made a social impact.

If the world didn’t actually change, it was at least a good thing because it forced academics and the public to think a little differently, if even for a short time.

If any of the this story moves or interests you, then I’m happy to tell you of an upcoming conference at which this conversation will continue. Movers and shakers in the worlds of social justice and medical education will come to Tulsa to brainstorm how we can better serve the needs of our country in the 21st century.

[Beyond Flexner refers to the 100th anniversary of the Flexner Report, a 1912 white paper commissioned by the Carnegie Foundation that had an enormous impact on how medical education was structured and delivered in the 20th century.]

Info on the conference here:


We are writing to let you know about an upcoming conference entitled “Beyond Flexner: Social Mission in Medical Education”. It will feature the work of a recently completed study on examples of “post-Flexnerian” medical schools, as well as innovations in medical education related to the social determinants of health, public health, and social accountability in an era of market and legislative driven health reform. Conference sponsors include:
•           The WK Kellogg Foundation
•           The George Washington University
•           The George Kaiser Family Foundation
•           The University of Oklahoma-Tulsa School of Community Medicine
•           The University of Tulsa

Basic details are below.  Stay tuned.  We will provide additional information and a formal invitation in the near future.  Please feel free to forward this message to those you feel may be interested.  For any conference-related questions, contact beyondflexner@gmail.com.

Beyond Flexner: The Social Mission of Medical Education
May 15-17, 2012  ~  Tulsa, Oklahoma
David Satcher, MD, MPH
H. Jack Geiger, MD
Gerard Clancy, MD 

Additional details will be available soon, so stay tuned!

Questions? Email beyondflexner@gmail.com