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Key Findings from 2015 AAMC Public Opinion Research


Every few years, the AAMC publishes results from research assessing public perception of medical schools and academic medical centers. The 2015 research recently concluded. Bill McInturff, co-founder of Public Opinion Strategies (POS), presented a summary of the findings at the AAMC’s Learn · Serve · Lead conference in Baltimore. 

Using focus groups, a national telephone survey of registered voters, a national internet survey, and interviews with health care policy leaders, McInturff and his colleagues determined that, overall, medical schools and teaching hospitals continue to be viewed favorably.

The data show that 65% of the public has a favorable opinion of medical schools. Similarly, teaching hospitals enjoy a 64 percent favorable rating. Those numbers might not look great to the uninitiated, but McInturff explained that such figures are about as positive as anyone can expect.

In other words, 35 and 36 percent of people, respectively, do not have an unfavorable view. In reality, unfavorable ratings represent only about 5% of responses. To paraphrase McInturff, people in many industries would be happy to wake up every day knowing they have those kinds of numbers.

Reasons for such a favorable view are varied, but the most popular responses were that medical schools and teaching hospitals offered the following benefits:

  • Places to train future doctors, hands on
  • Cutting edge tech, research and treatment
  • Good personal experience
  • Best doctors
  • Collaboration/team approach to care

Besides assessing mere favorability/unfavorability, POS research for the AAMC explored opinions about the broader role of AMCs to the health care system, contributions of teaching hospitals compared with other hospitals, the value of academic medicine overall, and whether or not AMC availability impacts consumer choices in health coverage. It also dives deep into the thoughts of state leaders, opinion drivers, and policymakers regarding value and other key issues related to AMCs.

The 2015 survey data are not publicly available. Because of that the findings reported in this post are of a general nature and don’t reflect the totality of the research. But don’t worry. Elisa Siegel, AAMC’s chief communications and marketing officer, says that a complete report of the data will be published in early 2016, downloadable by AAMC members at

By: Aaron Lovell