UCSF Named Top Internal Medicine Residency Program in US

By Leland Kim

UC San Francisco’s internal medicine residency program has recently been rated one of the best in the country, in the first-ever national survey of physicians on the quality of postgraduate training programs.

UCSF was one of four programs that received approximately twice as many nominations as any other, according to a survey of more than 3,400 physicians, conducted by Doximity and U.S. News & World Report

Inside UCSF spoke with Harry Hollander, MD, professor of medicine in the UCSF School of Medicine, and director of UCSF’s Internal Medicine Residency Training Program, about his thoughts on how UCSF fared in the survey.

Harry Hollander, MD

What was your reaction when you found out UCSF’s residency program was ranked one of the best in the country?

I was just thrilled for all of our current and past trainees who are such great ambassadors for us because of their great work and talent.  It was also an incredible endorsement of the faculty and staff who have been so dedicated to the program and creating the best experience for our residents.

Were you aware that U.S. News & World Report was working with Doximity to rank the best clinical training programs in internal medicine?


What do you make of their list? Is it comprehensive? It is skewed? Are there geographic biases?

Any survey like this has its flaws.  This one is obviously skewed to large academic programs, where the reputation of the training program is intertwined with other perceptions of the institution and the department in which that program lives.  Respondents from the west were also underrepresented, which makes the support for our program particularly noteworthy.

A growing percentage of our residents go into general internal medicine vs. pursuing subspecialty fellowships. What do you make of this statistic?

I would cite two factors.  First, compared to some of our peer programs, a larger percentage of our residents enter one of our primary care tracks.  Second, UCSF residents get significant exposure to one of the pioneering and best groups of academic hospitalists in the country.  It is not surprising that many trainees see the potential for successful careers as generalists given the strength of our general medicine and hospitalist faculty.

UCSF residents can serve the general population or focus on underserved communities, which align with our public mission. Do you think this has any influence on the types of residents we attract?

To be clear, all of our residents serve all of our patients, since they rotate through each of our inpatient sites.  I think the UCSF themes of social justice and access to care resonate strongly with people who come and look at the training program.  As a result, our cohort of residents complement academic excellence with an unusual commitment to physician service regardless of the residency track that they choose.  We are incredibly proud of this balance between heart and mind.

In the U.S. we are now short approximately 9,000 primary care doctors. In the next 15 years, the shortfall will be more 65,000 physicians. How important are residency programs, especially ones like UCSF’s which has a track record of producing a greater percentage of internists than other programs?

Our residents have proven that once they leave training, they are superbly qualified to fill any niche in internal medicine, whether that is as a subspecialist or generalist.  That said, we are delighted that our strong tradition of general medicine training has enriched the pool of talented general internists, who are desperately needed as we go forward.

What advice do you have for current medical students who are researching residency programs? What type of resident would do well at UCSF? What do we offer that is uniquely UCSF?

There is a vast array of residency programs out there, so you should have no trouble finding places that fit your goals, stylistic preferences and geographical needs.  People who have done particularly well here have been passionate about clinical care and about developing skills to be leaders in whichever niche of internal medicine that they choose, be it traditional research, global health, or care of the underserved, for example.  What is so unique about UCSF is having excellent mentors and role models in all of those domains, not just one area.  We are not looking to turn out 60 graduates from every class who look the same and will have exactly the same career.

What is the secret to our success? 

It’s not really a secret at all; it’s the people!  Others may have more in terms of financial resources, but nobody can beat our amazingly diverse patient base or the consistently superb colleagues who surround you at UCSF.


Robert B. Baron, MD, MS

Inside UCSF also spoke with Robert B. Baron, MD, MS, associate dean for Graduate and Continuing Medical Education at UCSF, to gauge his reaction to UCSF’s placement on the survery.

As Associate Dean for Graduate Medical Education (GME), I was not surprised to hear about the outstanding recognition for our Internal Medicine Program. Our Internal Medicine Residency Program is clearly one of the very best of its kind in the United States, and has been for decades.  In fact, I would be equally unsurprised if survey data gave similar recognition to any one of our 93 UCSF residency and fellowship programs.   They are all, almost without exception, quite remarkable and at the very top of their specialty peer groups.