Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine Named to “America’s Best” for Geriatric Medical Education

Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine Named to “America’s Best” for Geriatric Medical Education

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The annual US News & World Report rankings of America’s top medical schools again includes the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine as one of the nation’s premier institutions in the important field of geriatric medical education.

The Stratford-based medical school tied with the University of Pennsylvania for 12th place on the list that was released on March 16. This marks the 15th time that the School of Osteopathic Medicine has been included in this nationally prominent list.

“There are few areas of medicine that are more crucial today than geriatrics,” said Rowan University President Dr. Ali Houshmand. “As America’s population grows older, the need for physicians and other health professionals who are well-trained in the complexity of care for older individuals becomes urgent. To be included on this list of accomplished universities is a tremendous tribute, not only to our School of Osteopathic Medicine, but especially to the physicians, researchers, nurses and staff at our New Jersey institute for Successful Aging.”

The medical school’s repeated presence on the US News & World Report list reflects a longstanding commitment that pre-dates current concerns of the demographic shift occurring in this country, as an average of 10,000 Americans reach age 65 daily, a trend that will continue through the year 2029. More than 25 years ago, the New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging (NJISA) was founded at the School of Osteopathic Medicine by Dr. Thomas Cavalieri, a geriatrician and the current dean of the medical school.

“We are very proud of the fact that we were one of the first schools in the country to require all medical students to receive specific training in geriatrics,” Dr. Cavalieri said. “Being included, once again, on the US News & World Report list validates our commitment to continue the excellence in clinical care, education and innovative research that enhances the lives of older adults.”

“Over the years, the synergy of our tripartite mission of clinical service, education and research has served us well,” added Dr. Anita Chopra, director of the NJISA and chair of the Department of Geriatrics and Gerontology at the medical school. “There are some hopeful signs on the horizon. Research shows that the current older population is healthier than in the past and the rates of chronic disability are declining. Still, growing older continues to present health challenges for many individuals.”

Through the NJISA, the School of Osteopathic Medicine provides clinical care and training for future health care providers at a wide range of locations throughout the area. NJISA physicians and staff deliver health services or serve as medical directors in 25 nursing homes, assisted living facilities and continuing care retirement communities throughout the region.   

Last summer, the medical school was awarded a three-year, $2.55 million grant through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Health Resources and Services Administration to develop new programs to train and equip providers throughout the state on the complex health and psychosocial needs of older patients, their families and their caregivers. In October, the school announced a major advancement in biomarker research with the publication by an NJISA scientist that described a blood test that can accurately detect early-stage Parkinson’s disease and distinguish it from later stages of the disease. The NJISA is also engaged in multiple ongoing projects researching the impact of Hurricane Sandy on older adults. Funded by more than $3 million in federal grants, this research will help identify ways to protect vulnerable populations like older adults from the devastating social and psychological impact of natural disasters.

For its annual rankings, US News & World Report gathers responses to surveys sent to all fully accredited United States medical schools. The surveys cover research, primary care and eight specialty care areas, including family medicine, pediatrics and geriatrics. The specialty care rankings are based solely on responses from medical school deans and senior faculty who are asked to identify the schools offering the best programs in each area. Johns Hopkins University, Harvard, Yale, UCLA and Duke University were among the other schools acknowledged this year for geriatric medical education by the publication.

“The inclusion of our school on this prestigious list is particularly gratifying because we were selected based on the rankings of similar programs made by the deans and senior faculty at medical schools across the country,” Dr. Cavalieri said. “To receive this level of recognition from one’s peers speaks volumes not only about what we have accomplished in the past, but also what we contribute today and are poised to develop in the coming years.”