As New Jersey hospitals face rising staff vacancies, a shortage of primary care physicians and unprecedented demands for health care, one South Jersey health system and a public research university have developed an entirely new approach to building a highly trained, diverse workforce.
Since announcing the creation of their historic academic health partnership in January, Rowan University and Virtua Health leaders have made significant strides toward their shared goal of establishing a health-and-education powerhouse that will recruit, train and develop future doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, allied health professionals and biomedical researchers.
As a result, the partners hope to provide South Jersey patients with more high-quality medical services close to home, rather than forcing them to go out of state.
The top 100 public research university and the largest health system in South Jersey recently began sharing those plans publicly and launched a new website designed to attract prospective students, faculty and researchers to the new Virtua Health College of Medicine & Life Sciences of Rowan University.
Employing the combined strengths of both institutions, the new college and its schools are focused on improving the delivery of health care and advancing research for the discovery of new treatments. Through diverse areas of clinical studies and distinct learning environments, the college is breaking down barriers of inequality and access to care.
“It truly is a historic moment,” said Ali A. Houshmand, Ph.D., president of Rowan University. “Our leadership team has been hard at work imagining what health care can be and should be. Make no mistake: What we are embarking on is pioneering.”
With its commitment to be a regional economic engine, Rowan views its partnership with Virtua Health as another advantage for individuals and organizations with ambition in health care innovation. In addition to encouraging entrepreneurship and partnerships with the University, Rowan provides opportunities open to the public through its Innovation Venture Fund. Recently expanded to $25 million, the fund helps support the commercial development of promising new therapies and inventions like those already underway through Rowan research. Rowan-Virtua collaborations will accelerate progress with tangible results in health care.
Supported through an $85 million gift from Virtua Health, the second largest endowment in Rowan’s history, and $125 million dedicated by Rowan, the joint endeavor will attract and expand the University’s roster of professionals and students, as well as build research facilities on Rowan’s West Campus.
“Virtua Health and Rowan University work well together because of compatible values and a shared desire to advance the health and well-being of the South Jersey communities we serve,” said Dennis W. Pullin, FACHE, president and CEO of Virtua Health. “Both Virtua and Rowan have histories of reinvention, and this next chapter is sure to be incredible.”
The partnership is a direct result of New Jersey’s 2012 decision to reorganize its higher education institutions, naming Rowan a public research institution and integrating the state’s only osteopathic medical school with the university, noted Congressman Donald Norcross.
“As part of the reorg, we had a vision—a vision to bring more medical education, more seats for higher education together,” Norcross said, who was a state senator at the time.
Rowan’s partnership with Virtua “is where great minds have come together to create the vision we have before us today, outside of the box,” Norcross added. “That is something incredibly special.”
Viewed by both institutions as a long-term, strategic investment, the Virtua Health College of Medicine & Life Sciences of Rowan University comprises three distinct schools, plus research centers and institutes. They include:
“Since announcing our partnership, we’ve been fully focused on bringing together the best of both Rowan and Virtua,” Houshmand said. “This has been a complex undertaking, but we’re driven to raise the bar of excellence in health care, research and education.”
For information, visit vhc.rowan.edu.