UI Hospitals & Clinics ranked by U.S. News & World Report: Q&A with Kim Hunter

UI Hospitals & Clinics was recently recognized as the only hospital in Iowa to achieve a national ranking by U.S. News & World Report, in addition to earning national rankings in two specialties.

A provider conducts an eye exam on a patient.

UI Hospitals & Clinics remains only hospital in Iowa to be nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report

The specialties earning rankings are:

  • 7 in ophthalmology
  • 31 in ear, nose, and throat

Six other medical specialties—cancer, gastroenterology and GI surgery, geriatrics, orthopedics, pulmonary and lung surgery, and urology—were ranked as “High-Performing,” which means they are in the top 10% of programs in their specialty areas across the nation.

In June, we shared results from the “Best Children’s Hospital” rankings, in which UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital—Iowa’s only nationally ranked children’s hospital—ranked in seven specialties: neonatology; pediatric cancer; pediatric diabetes and endocrinology; pediatric nephrology; pediatric neurology and neurosurgery; pediatric orthopedics; and pediatric pulmonology.

To learn more about this year’s rankings, we spoke with Kim Hunter, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, interim chief executive officer and chief nurse executive for UI Hospitals & Clinics, and interim associate vice president for UI Health Care. 

Great achievements from both the adult and children’s teams. What do you make of this year’s adult rankings?

“Well first, congratulations to everyone in the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and the Department of Otolaryngology for being ranked in the top 50 this year. And congratulations to everyone connected to our programs in cancer, gastroenterology, geriatrics, orthopedics, pulmonary, and urology, and all of our pediatric programs.

To be included in the “High-Performing” category is mark of distinction—it means that you’re among the top 10% nationwide. It’s also a sign of the great work you’re doing.”

Let’s talk about the methodologies used for determining rankings. Is it true the methodologies change every year?

Kim Hunter, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, interim chief executive officer and chief nurse executive for UI Hospitals & Clinics, and interim associate vice president for UI Health Care

“Yes. There are sometimes slight variations—and sometimes wholesale changes—in what measures they collect and what weight they give to a particular measure, such as reputation, for example. But we’ve only just received this info, so it will take a little while to analyze the data.

So, while rankings can be a helpful indicator in terms of a hospital’s performance or reputation, rankings are just one indicator of performance or reputation. This is not to diminish the work of our specialty areas that have been ranked. It’s just a reminder that the rankings are one indicator—and they can fluctuate from year to year.”

What would you say to those who ask about why we aren’t ranked in more specialties this year?

“Well, that’s a good question. It’s true that we are ranked in fewer specialties. This year is unique in that we have two specialties in the top 50, whereas in past years we’ve had numerous programs ranked in the top 50.

Now that the rankings are out, and as U.S. News shares its methodology data, we’ll be able to dig into the numbers and hopefully get a better sense of how we fared in comparison to past years.”

Why do we pay so much attention to rankings if they can fluctuate from year to year?

“While it’s just one piece of the puzzle, we pay attention to the rankings and recognize our departments and specialties who are included because we do know rankings can influence the recruitment of faculty, staff, and students.

And one thing that does not fluctuate from year to year in the U.S. News rankings is that we are Iowa’s No. 1 hospital. This is important to remember. As you know, we serve the entire state of Iowa as well as the surrounding region—and the nation, really.

The fact that we are the only comprehensive academic medical center in our state sometimes can be easy for us to overlook. Every day, our faculty and staff provide advanced and often complex care in every specialty for adults and children—care that Iowans need and depend on. We are a resource and referral center for other hospitals and health systems across the state. When Iowans need us, we’re here. This is true across our hospitals and clinics, regardless of where a program is ranked now or in the future. Our teams should be proud of all they accomplish and all those they help every day.

So, again, congratulations to those programs ranked and recognized this year. But just as important, thanks to everyone across our organization for the work you do. The best kind of success is shared success, so please feel proud of your efforts and those of your colleagues.”