Medical schools in Tennessee are plotted across the state providing convenient locations for potential students who are residents as well as those in many of the surrounding states. “U.S. News and World Report” publishes a list of top med schools annually. It evaluates schools based on program quality, peer review, research activity and other criteria. Three Tennessee medical schools are included in the rankings for primary care, internal medicine and research.

Top of the Line

Located in Music City, Vanderbilt University’s School of Medicine in Nashville is top-ranked in Tennessee. In the “U.S. News & World Report” survey of medical schools, it placed 11th for internal medicine, 16th for research and 31st for primary care. In addition to a traditional M.D., Vanderbilt offers several dual degrees, combining a medical degree with a Juris Doctorate, Master in Business Administration, Master of Divinity, Master of Theological Studies and a Master of Public Health.

Learning in Memphis

Memphis is home to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, ranked 39th for Primary Care by “U.S. News & World Report.” The school is affiliated with many hospitals and medical institutions, including the UTHSC Cancer Institute, the Regional Medical Center, the Memphis Veterans Administration Medical Center and the Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center. Admission to the med school is based on an undergraduate degree that balances liberal arts and science courses, Medical College Admissions Test scores, personal recommendations and interviews. In 2013, 165 students --about one-tenth of the applicants-- were enrolled in the M.D. program.

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A New Approach

At the northeast corner of the state in Johnson City is East Tennessee State University. Its Quillen College of Medicine was listed 77th in primary care and 78th in research by “U.S. News & World Report.” Quillen has adopted an unusual admissions policy for a medical school. They want their students to enter with a broad background of liberal arts and social, behavioral, life and physical sciences. Therefore, they no longer require specific undergraduate courses. Instead, they are looking for applicants who can apply knowledge, analyze, think critically, display curiosity and focus on academics. Quillen offers a variety of experiences to their medical students, including computerized patient simulation labs, a program that focuses on rural medicine and internships in anatomy labs.

Additional Options

In addition to those identified in “U.S. News & World Report,” Tennessee has other medical schools, some in major cities. The School of Medicine at Meharry Medical College in Nashville has been graduating doctors for over 100 years. The medical school is committed to diversity and focuses on African American and underserved populations. In addition to its Memphis location, the University of Tennessee has another College of Medicine at the Chattanooga campus. This program accepts up to 175 students annually. Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, near the Kentucky border, is home to the DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine. The school offers a four-year Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree. Students are trained to be primary care physicians, treating the whole patient, not just the symptoms.

About the Author

Living in upstate New York, Susan Sherwood is a researcher who has been writing within educational settings for more than 10 years. She has co-authored papers for Horizons Research, Inc. and the Capital Region Science Education Partnership. Sherwood has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from the University at Albany.