Harvard copped a significant victory in the local health race this month when Boston Magazine listed no less than 26 Harvard faculty members among the area's 45 most recommended doctors.
The story, penned by free-lance writer Gino Del Guercio, was based on a survey in which Boston physicians were asked to name the five best local clinicians in their specialty. The three doctors most often cited in each of fifteen categories were listed in the article, which was entitled "The Doctors Doctors Go To."
Each of the 45 physicians practice at one of the Boston area teaching hospitals, which are affiliated with the medical schools of Tufts, B.U. or Harvard. In addition to the Harvard doctors, the article named nine Tufts University faculty members.
Not only did Harvard have at least one affiliate in each category, but four of the fifteen consisted exclusively of Harvard physicians.
Martin S. Bander, deputy to the general director of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), says that Harvard's reputation was probably the key to the strong showing.
"The Harvard name attracts the brightest young minds," Bander explains, "and because Harvard has the opportunity to choose the top quality people, it can therefore be more selective and choose the individuals who are the most creative and humane--people who find excitement in providing the best possible care."
But Dr. Arlan Fuller Jr. assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Harvard and one of the three doctors cited as most highly recommended in that field, believes it is more a question of numbers.
"The issue is the denominator," Fuller says He points out that Harvard, with about a dozen full teaching hospitals in the area--as opposed to Tufts' seven and B.U.'s two--simply has more affiliated physicians practicing in the area than the other schools.
Fuller adds that physicians at Harvard teaching hospitals such as MGH say they are particularly happy with their posts, and tend to retain them longer than many colleagues at other affiliated hospitals.
"From a practical point of view, someone who stays around the community longer is better known," he says.
But Bander maintains that the numbers don't tell the whole story.
"It goes beyond that," he says, "because how would you account for all the Harvard affiliated hospitals ranking so highly nationally?"
Bander referred to an article in the November issue of Good Housekeeping in which a survey of hospital and medical school administrators named Harvard teaching hospitals as among the best in the nation in terms of patient care.
In the survey, MGH was named as the premier general hospital in the country. Harvard-affiliated Shriner Burn Center ranked as the highest in its category, as did Children's Hospital.