Rowan-Virtua: Building the health care workforce of the future

Rowan-Virtua: Building the health care workforce of the future

Rowan University
Medical students will benefit from more clinical training opportunities as a result of the Rowan-Virtua partners. – ROWAN UNIVERSITY


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.

Reimagining health care

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.

Rowan University logo

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.”

Invested in creating opportunities for growth

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.

Endowment drives possibilities in perpetuity

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.”

Education, health care and research

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:

  • Rowan-Virtua School of Osteopathic Medicine: With campuses in Stratford and Sewell, Rowan-Virtua SOM admitted 272 students in 2022, the largest entering class of any New Jersey medical school.
  • Rowan-Virtua School of Nursing & Health Professions: With a four-year, residential nursing program and additional programs for allied health professionals under development, the newly expanded school intends to help fill urgent demands for highly trained health care employees in South Jersey. Already, more than 80 registered nurses are enrolled in Virtua’s Nurturing Nurses program.
  • Rowan-Virtua School of Translational Biomedical Engineering & Sciences: Once fully developed, the school will serve as the college’s focal point for research and innovation. The school is recruiting 25 fast-rising faculty and clinician researchers by 2025 and plans to double that number within a decade. Three new institutes will investigate vital concerns in health equity, cardiovascular disease and solid organ transplant and regenerative medicine.

“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.