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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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Houston VA's Major Affiliate Ranked 10th on National List of Medical Schools

April 4, 2006

HOUSTON – For more than 50 years, the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) has provided clinical training for health care professionals through its major affiliate, Baylor College of Medicine (BCM). BCM has now been ranked 10th among the 125 U.S. medical schools in an annual survey published by U.S. News & World Report, moving up three positions from its 13th ranking last year.

In October 1948, Michael E. DeBakey, M.D., the father of modern cardiovascular surgery and the MEDVAMC’s namesake, accepted the position as chairman of Surgery at the Baylor University College of Medicine, the predecessor of BCM in Houston. That same year acting on orders from President Truman to assume operation of the old Houston Navy Hospital, Warren Magnuson, M.D., the medical director of the Veterans Administration in Washington, D.C., called upon DeBakey to organize and direct staffing at the hospital. DeBakey, with the help of the full-time faculty at Baylor University College of Medicine, provided the medical staff and established the Dean's Committee. As chief surgeon at the Houston Veterans Administration Hospital, DeBakey also created an accredited residency program for the facility.

Today, the MEDVAMC operates the largest residency program in the Department of Veterans Affairs with 173.7 slots accounting for 600 residents per academic year. The vast majority of MEDVAMC physicians are on the faculty of BCM and contribute to its achievements in tertiary care, and biomedical and health services research. Each academic year, 1,400 students from fields such as nursing, dietetics, social work, physical therapy, and a wide variety of medical specialties are trained at the MEDVAMC through 110 affiliation agreements with institutions of higher learning in 14 states. This responsibility serves to enhance the quality of care provided to the veterans in southeast Texas.

“Baylor College of Medicine is an internationally respected medical and research institution known for excellence in education, research, and patient care. We value our long-term affiliation with this superb organization and offer our sincere congratulations. This recognition by U.S. News & World Report confirms our belief that our health care professionals are among the best in the country and provide the highest quality of health care for our Nation’s most deserving, our veterans,” said Edgar L. Tucker, director, MEDVAMC.

U.S. News & World Report also listed BCM as 11th in primary care, moving up from its 22nd ranking last year. Primary care includes internal medicine, family practice, and gynecology. BCM, Duke University, the University of California – San Francisco, and the University of Washington are the only medical schools in the country to achieve top 10 percent ranking in both research and primary care medical school categories and a top 10 percent ranking in their biological sciences program.

The MEDVAMC significantly contributed to this achievement through its excellent primary care clinics and its outstanding results in preventive medicine and chronic disease management, and in the integration of mental health services in primary care. According to a 2004 study by RAND, an independent think-tank, patients in the health care system operated by the VA receive significantly better care than private-sector patients. The study found VA patients were significantly more likely than non-VA patients to receive needed preventative care.  The study also found VA patients with chronic medical problems received the treatment they needed more often than private-sector patients. Researchers found about 51 percent of non-VA patients received care that met the latest standards of the health care profession, compared with 67 percent for VA patients.  For preventative care, such as pneumonia vaccination and certain cancer screenings, 64 percent of VA patients received the appropriate care, compared to only 44 percent in the private sector.

“Having our medical school ranked in the top 10 percent of both categories and our graduate school also ranked in the top 10 percent shows that we have outstanding faculty training our students and that we have achieved broad-based excellence at BCM,” says Peter G. Traber, M.D., president and CEO of BCM. “It also shows the tremendous strength of our affiliated teaching hospitals that collaborate with BCM to educate the next generation of physicians and scientists.”

The medical school rankings survey by U.S. News & World Report included 125 medical schools fully accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, plus the 19 schools of osteopathic medicine fully accredited by the American Osteopathic Association. The rankings are based on a weighted average of eight “indicators” that includes average undergraduate GPAs, average MCAT (Medical College Aptitude Test) scores, acceptance rate, NIH research grants, faculty-to-student ratio, out-of-state tuition and fees, and total medical school enrollment. In addition, peer-assessment surveys of medical and osteopathic school deans, deans of academic affairs, and heads of internal medicine or directors of admissions rate program quality on a scale of one-to-five.

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