Week 30: Rankings

This week, U.S. News and World Report released their annual hospital rankings. The methodology changes from year to year, and attention is often focused on the overall rankings of health systems. This year, UCLA Health continues to be recognized as a premier health system in the United States. I want to dig a little deeper into the rankings to illustrate the outstanding performance of programs that directly involve faculty in the department of medicine (DoM) and speak to the quality and reputation of our programs relative to our peers.

Of the 16 ranked specialties in the report, eight involve internal medicine. Within these eight specialties, all our programs were either highly ranked or designated as high performing. They include:

  • Cancer (#5) 
  • Cardiology (#11)
  • Diabetes and endocrinology (#5)
  • Gastroenterology (#3) 
  • Geriatrics (#5) 
  • Nephrology (5/5, designated as high-performing) 
  • Pulmonology (#5) 
  • Rheumatology (#9)

To illustrate the impact of these results relative to our peers, I generated some histograms of the top 10 ranked health systems (listed from left to right from highest (Mayo Clinic) to number 10 ranked (Stanford University Health) and evaluated the number of internal medicine specialties that were ranked in the top 5, top 10 or top 20.

As you can see, of the seven internal medicine related specialties that are ranked, only Mayo Clinic had all specialties ranked in the top five. After that only two institutions had five internal medicine related specialties ranked in the top five, UCLA Health and NYU Langone.  If we look at programs that were ranked in the top 10, only three institutions had six internal medicine related specialties ranked in the top 10, UCLA Health, NYU Langone and the Cleveland Clinic.

Thus, our DoM affiliated programs have again been recognized to be among the very best in the country.

This achievement is a testament to the diligence and sacrifice of our faculty working collaboratively with the health system in ensuring that we are at the forefront of research, training the future leaders in medicine, and providing world-class patient care. I salute each division chief, clinical chief, faculty member, trainee, and staff member who contributed towards this special recognition. It is one example of many that illustrates how unique our department of medicine truly is. I hope that you each take a moment to celebrate our accomplishment and continue to be inspired to push the boundaries of medicine, science, education, and patient care.

As you know, I am from Jamaica, and I run as a hobby. You may also know that the 100m world record of 9.58s is held by my compatriot Usain Bolt and has not been broken for more than 12 years. It might be very difficult for anyone to attain that, but there are a small group of elite athletes who have broken the 10s, and a smaller number yet under 9.8s (only six). So, as I put our rankings into perspective, we may not yet have the world record, but we are very close!

Our mission transcends the work done at UCLA Health, because of our department’s important collaborations with safety net hospitals, the most robust of these being with Olive View-UCLA Medical Center (OVMC), located in Sylmar in the San Fernando Valley. OVMC, a county hospital providing care for medically underserved communities throughout the San Fernando and Antelope valleys, has been academically tied to UCLA for decades. This partnership has been mutually beneficial to both organizations. UCLA provides outstanding care to patients by sending trainees as well as specialists and subspecialists to OVMC. In turn, OVMC has created a wonderful learning environment for UCLA trainees by providing opportunities for UCLA residents to learn more about health equity and disparities in care across communities.  

A notable example of this collaboration is in gastroenterology under the leadership of Dr. Simon Beaven, chief of gastroenterology & hepatology, Dr. Richard Hu, UCLA GI fellowship site director, Dr. Thomas Kovacs, GI education coordinator, Dr. James Tabibian, director of endoscopy, and faculty members Dr. Wael El-NachefDr. Gaurav Singhvi and Dr. Lisa Toy. With joint support from the DoM and LA County, the team has overseen a 3-fold increase in clinic volume and a 1.8-fold increase in procedure volume, over the past 5 years.

Our strong partnership with OVMC has significantly enhanced OVMC-sponsored residency and fellowship training programs. OVMC trainees work alongside our teaching faculty to provide high-quality care to a patient population that is disproportionately impacted by high rates of chronic disease including diabetes, hypertension, heart failure. Currently 123 residents and 112 fellows rotate through OVMC in specialties that include nephrology, GI, infectious diseases, pulmonology and others. Half of our primary care track residents participate in the OVMC/Santa Clarita track. Many UCLA residents describe OVMC as their favorite training experience. While at OVMC, residents have a chance to care for a patient population disparate from the one they typically serve during their clinical rotations at UCLA. OVMC’s patients identify as 55% Hispanic, of which a large portion are immigrants and refugees facing significant socioeconomic challenges that impact health outcomes. From a payer mix perspective, 60% are on medi-cal or restricted medi-cal, about 20% uninsured or underinsured.

I salute Dr. Soma Wali, chair of the department of medicine at OVMC, who has overseen the growth of the UCLA-Olive View Internal Medicine Residency Program by recruiting world-class faculty to oversee care delivery and residency education. Dr. Wali has also set her sights on recruiting faculty in interventional cardiology, pulmonary and critical care medicine, dermatology, rheumatology, primary care, hospitalist medicine, hematology-oncology, GIM and HSR and sleep medicine. The DoM stands ready to partner with Soma to achieve these goals, as we continue to build our commitment to improve health equity for our greater Los Angeles community.

Last week I introduced you to new subspecialty trainees in our ACGME-accredited fellowship programs. There were two groups that did not make last week’s list, namely clinical immunology and allergy and sleep medicine.

This week let me also present those who are joining UCLA this year in our advanced subspecialty training programs; Kennamer Extensivist Program, interventional pulmonology, kidney and pancreas transplant, LGBTQ health, Melvin and Bren Simon GI Quality Improvement Program, National Clinician Scholars Program, primary care research, advanced endoscopy program (digestive diseases), East-West Integrative Medicine Program, transplant hepatology. Welcome to UCLA!

We recruit many faculty to the department each year across all divisions. I will use this space to introduce these new members of our community over the ensuing weeks.  This week, let me introduce new faculty to the division of general internal medicine and health services research. They include:

  • Melissa Wei, MD
  • Dan Ly, MD, PhD
  • Benjamin Meza, MD
  • Chelse Shover, PhD
  • Evan Shannon, MD
  • Uptal Sandesara, MD, PhD
  • Rich Leuchter, MD
  • Katherine Chen, MD
  • Carlos Oronce, MD
  • Maria Jimenez, MD, Hem-Onc
  • Lawrence Benjamin, MD, Pulmonary, Critical Care Medicine
  • Jennifer Adrissi, MD, Neurology
  • Adys Mendizabal, MD, Neurology
  • Kacie Detters, MD, PhD, Physiology

As you can see, we recruit the best as we continue to fulfill one of our core missions of developing tomorrow’s leaders in medicine.

Last week the DMPG Board elected Dr. Igor Kagan as the new DMPG president. Igor will lead the DMPG Board for the next year. He will be supported by Dr. Joshua Khalili  and Dr. Zhaoping Li who will serve as vice president and secretary respectively. They will work closely with me to ensure that the DMPG continues to serve and support all the faculty in our growing clinical practice.

Finally, to our DMPG faculty members PLEASE VOTE! Last week, DMPG leadership invited DMPG members to vote on the revision of DMPG bylaws which have not been updated in almost 30 years. The bylaws that govern our clinical practice plan were written in 1996 and no longer the reflect the size and complexity of our department. On the ballot, you will find a proposal to increase the representation of DOM members on the DMPG executive board from seven members to 11 members and allow for proportional representation of the constituents of the DOM by allocating seats based on geographic section. We need a minimum of 50% of the DMPG to participate in this vote for the bylaws to be ratified. I encourage you to take one minute to submit your vote today by clicking on the link provided in email communications that you received from the DMPG and your division leaders. I will also send an announcement later today addressed to our DMPG members that includes the link to submit your vote.



My mother has been visiting us in LA since last week. She dropped by my CHS office last week and approves of the décor.

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