The UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital has been ranked among the nation’s best children’s hospitals this year, according to a new U.S. News & World Report list.

The annual report of pediatric centers was released Tuesday and evaluated 116 hospitals. The hospitals were then ranked in 10 specialty areas, and the top 50 hospitals with the highest scores were listed in each of these specialties. Shands Children’s Hospital was ranked among the top 50 in seven of the 10 specialty areas.

“These rankings speak to the prominence that the University of Florida has nationally,” said Dr. Scott Rivkees, chairman of the department of pediatrics in the UF College of Medicine. “It shows that how we are continuing to excel and improve in this very important part of the UF mission,” he said.

The hospital’s rankings are especially impressive as it is a relatively small program compared with the larger hospitals listed on the report, he said.

“There’s no other program in the United States of our size that has ranked as high as we did across the board,” he said.

The hospital was ranked No. 14 in diabetes and endocrinology, No. 27 in cardiology and heart surgery, No. 34 in gastroenterology, No. 35 in pulmonology, No. 36 in neonatology, No. 41 in cancer and No. 41 in nephrology.

Of these seven, the hospital was ranked higher in five specialties compared to last year.

Mark Amox, the executive director for UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital, attributes this jump in rankings to the hospital’s awareness of and dedication to areas that need improvement.

“The key for us is that we recognize that this is a journey. It’s an evolution,” Amox said. “Our goal is to continue to move forward and to continue to set the bar higher and higher every year.”

Kerry Caputo, a 21-year-old UF biology senior, works as a student volunteer at Shands through the Streetlight program, which partners volunteers with chronically ill teenage patients. Caputo cites the excellent personal care and compassion of the staff and volunteers as one of the reasons the hospital has achieved these national rankings.

Like a sports team victory, these new rankings offer the UF community another reason to celebrate its school.

“It’s another source of pride,” Caputo said.

[A version of this story ran on page 1- 4 on 6/11/2014 under the headline "Children’s Hospital rankings improve "]

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