Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University, New Jersey’s first private medical school in decades, has welcomed its second class of 91 students, who were selected from nearly 5,000 applicants.
“Dynamic changes in healthcare require a new approach to medical education and we are thrilled to welcome our next class of future physicians who will humanize healthcare,” said Robert C. Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health.
In its second year, the innovative curriculum includes: a three-year path to residency to make a medical education more affordable; partnering students with patients in underserved communities so they better understand the social determinants of health; and interdisciplinary learning so that graduates are prepared to provide team-based care which research shows improves outcomes.
“Our goal is to maximize health in all of the communities we serve, a goal best achieved through an interdisciplinary approach based on an understanding that health and wellness, as well as disease and sickness, occur where people live, work and play,” said Dr. Bonita Stanton, founding dean of the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University.
The school was opened last year to transform medical education and to help ease the shortage of physicians in New Jersey, estimated at 3,000 by 2020. Research shows that physicians often practice where they train.
Some of the graduates will complete their residencies at Hackensack Meridian Health, New Jersey’s largest and most comprehensive health network with 17 hospitals, 500 patient care locations, 7,000 physicians and 35,000 team members.
The three-year path to residency – one of just a handful of such programs in the nation – also helps reduce the cost of medical education. Medical school graduates emerge $180,000 in debt on average in the U.S.
The Hackensack Meridian Health board of trustees also has provided a $100 million endowment fund for scholarships to the school, fulfilling a high priority to ensure top students can afford a medical education, Mr. Garrett said.
The newest class is half female; 58 students are from New Jersey. Nine have advanced degrees in law, public health, bioethics and other fields.
The class also speaks 23 languages, an asset in New Jersey, one of the most diverse states in the nation.
“Our rigorous academic curriculum combines traditional science with a focus on the new frontiers in medicine – prevention, population health, genetics and team-based care delivered in the community setting,” said Mary Meehan, Ph.D., interim president of Seton Hall University.
When the School of Medicine opened last year, Seton Hall University relocated its College of Nursing and School of Health and Medical Sciences to create an Interprofessional Health Sciences (IHS) campus in Nutley and Clifton.
The innovative curriculum will help future physicians navigate major changes in healthcare that are underway in the U.S. including the transition to value-based care in which physicians and hospitals are paid to keep people well. It’s a major shift from fee-for-service medicine in which providers are paid for each treatment and procedure.
The strategy is essential to improve outcomes and lower the cost of care as the U.S. faces an epidemic of diabetes and other chronic disease, which is costly and, in many cases, preventable. Even though the U.S. spends far more than virtually all nations, we lag behind other peer nations in all major areas of health including maternal and infant health and life expectancy. This new approach aims to eliminate disparities in health outcome by closely coordinating care and intervening earlier when problems develop.
Students will develop partnerships with families living in stressed communities and work with them to jointly understand and overcome factors that can impede or contribute to well-being, ranging from access to grocery stores to taking advantage of new developments in telemedicine.
“We are thrilled to transform medical education so that our graduates are uniquely prepared to practice in a new world of healthcare delivery,” Garrett said.
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