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Utahns who want to be physicians have only one option for medical school in the state, but a recently released report found that choice is a good one.

U.S. News & World Report this week released its 2018 rankings of best graduate schools — from medicine to business to law — and determined that the University of Utah School of Medicine was among the top 50 in the country for both research and primary care.

The school also improved significantly from last year's rankings. It was No. 40 in research this year, compared to 46 last year, and No. 34 in primary care, compared to 54 last year.

"This is a remarkable rise in standing that places the university among the country's top institutions," said Vivian Lee, medical school dean and U. Health senior vice president.

To rank medical schools, the magazine annually examines those fully accredited by either the Liaison Committee on Medical Education or the American Osteopathic Association, according to its website. In 2016, 170 schools fit that criteria and were surveyed in fall 2016 and early 2017, the website said.

Only 118 schools provided data — faculty-student ratio, research activity and student selectivity, for example — used to calculate the ratings for research and primary care, according to the magazine.

Kathy Wilets, a U. spokeswoman, said the school climbed the rankings because of "an ongoing and consistent effort to improve."

They received more than $8 million more funding from the National Institutes of Health last year compared to the previous year, for example, and they have an excellent faculty-to-student ratio, Wilets said.

The U. currently is Utah's only medical school and accepts about 120 students per year. But Utahns soon will have another in-state medical school to choose from.

Rocky Vista University will start classes in July at its new Ivins facility for its first class of 125 students.

Rankings for the for-profit, osteopathic medical school's Colorado location were not published by the magazine, which only offers numeric rankings for the nation's top three-fourths of schools and that those below that do not receive a rank, according to its website.

Medical officials have said they hope the additional students accepted by Rocky Vista will help alleviate a physician shortage plaguing the Beehive State. With 207.5 physicians per 100,000 population, the state ranks 43rd in the nation, according to 2015 Association of American Medical Colleges data.

Right now, the U. is working to replace its old medical school building with three new facilities — an ambulatory care center, a rehabilitation hospital and a medical education building — but these changes will not immediately increase the number of medical students the U. accepts.

The U. recently got a funding commitment from lawmakers — $50 million over three years — to bolster this $420 million project, expected to be completed by late 2021 or early 2022.

Other university rankings released this week include the College of Pharmacy's Pharm.D. program at No. 17; the College of Nursing's master's degree program at No. 31 and doctorate of nursing practice program at No. 22; and the College of Health's physical therapy program at No. 20.

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