HMH-Seton Hall med school: ‘Goal is to change medical education’

The ribbon-cutting for the new Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University may be the culmination of Robert Garrett’s dream to bring a private medical to the state of New Jersey.

On Wednesday, however, the Hackensack Meridian Health co-CEO only wanted to look further ahead.

“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,’’ he said.

Gov. Phil Murphy and a host of other elected officials joined Seton Hall and Hackensack Meridian executives for the ribbon-cutting.

“We need to not only attract more physicians to our state, but we need to keep more here,” Murphy said. “If we train doctors in New Jersey, they are more likely to stay.

“We know health care is changing dramatically. If we want to improve the system, we have to start at the beginning.”

Murphy also talked about the innovation economy and how the big economic void left by Roche’s departure from the site in Nutley and Clifton is being filled by the school and the research institute.

Students admitted to the school, along with current students from Seton Hall University’s health programs, will attend classrooms housed on a portion of the more than 50,000 square feet of former offices and research space for the pharmaceutical company.

The building, which was gutted and is still being rebuilt in an estimated $75 million capital project, is expected to be ready this summer. (See ROI-NJ’s slideshow for how it currently looks.)

It will need to be. The first semester is set to begin in July.

Officials at the school said they are anticipating admitting 60 students for the first year, and a wait list is already building.

An admissions committee meeting was taking place Tuesday and a final head count is anticipated in the next few weeks.

As of Wednesday, one research group from Hackensack Meridian Health has moved into the research space, with others set to join once the build-out is complete.

Garrett, speaking at the Hackensack Meridian Health annual meeting earlier this month, said he is proud of the diversity of applications.

Of the 2,100 applications, Garrett said 50 percent were from New Jersey and 50 percent were women.

Garrett was prouder still of the approval by the Hackensack Meridian board of a $100 million endowment fund to help make the private school affordable.

“We believe in making medical education more affordable and profession more diverse,” he said.

Mary Meehan, the interim president of Seton Hall University, said the school will prepare students for how health care will be delivered in the future.

“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,’’ she said.

Dr. Bonita Stanton, founding dean of the new school, agreed with the forward-looking approach.

“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,’’ she said. “We are humanizing health care.’’

Read more from ROI-NJ: