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Seton Hall University and Hackensack Meridian Health Celebrate Opening of School of Medicine

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – The Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University will offer an innovative curriculum and address New Jersey's looming physician shortage.

New Jersey’s first private medical school in decades officially opened in May with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and key legislators celebrating a new approach to medical education and a program that will keep needed family physicians in New Jersey—as well as revitalizing a major economic hub in North Jersey.

“We are so proud to see this vision reach fruition and deliver on our goal to change medical education to better prepare physicians of the future,'' says Robert C. Garrett, co-CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health.

The school will welcome its inaugural class of nearly 60 students selected from more than 2,000 applicants and forge a new path in medical education that addresses profound changes in health care which have resulted in more community-based care and an unprecedented focus on wellness.

“We have created a rigorous academic curriculum that 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,'' says Mary Meehan, Ph.D., interim president of Seton Hall University.

Along with the opening of the School of Medicine, Seton Hall University has relocated its College of Nursing and School of Health and Medical Sciences to create an Interprofessional Health Sciences (IHS) campus in Nutley and Clifton, President Meehan says.

“We know healthcare is changing dramatically. If we want to improve the system, we have to start at the beginning in how we train the next generation of doctors. This school will help us ensure better outcomes through team-based care and focusing on maintaining health as much as curing disease,” says Gov. Murphy.

“Our goal is to improve health outcomes in all of the communities we serve and we can do that by teaching future physicians to take a more holistic approach,'' says Dr. Bonita Stanton, founding dean of the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University. “We are humanizing health care.''

Additionally, the Hackensack Meridian Health Board of Trustees has established 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 says.

Students will train in several of Hackensack Meridian Health's 16 hospitals, including four which are listed among the top 10 in New Jersey, including the No. 1 ranked Hackensack University Medical Center.

Research shows that physicians often practice where they train which would help the state ease a shortage of an estimated 3,000 doctors by 2020.

Additionally, 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 many 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 outcomes.

Students will develop partnerships with families living in stressed communities and shadow them to understand and help families overcome factors that can impede or contribute to well-being, such as access to grocery stores and transportation to access care.

The new school is also unique in that it offers a three-year program, one of only a dozen or so in the nation to take this approach which can lower the cost of a medical education.

“We are thrilled to be part of the solution to reform health care from the ground up and we are grateful to have a terrific partner in Seton Hall University,'' says Joseph Simunovich, co-chairman of the Hackensack Meridian Health Board of Trustees and chairman of the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University Board of Governors.