Rowan, Virtua Health to create new academic health system

Rowan, Virtua Health to create new academic health system

Rowan, Virtua Health are partnering to create a new academic health system.

Virtua Health and Rowan University announced today the signing of an affiliation agreement to create a new academic health system and to further distinguish South Jersey as a regional hub for innovation, research, and clinical discovery. 

This partnership between the top 100 public research university and the largest health system in southern New Jersey will create the Virtua Health College of Medicine & Health Sciences of Rowan University. The new college will encompass the state’s only osteopathic medical school; an expanded nursing and allied health professions school; a new school of translational biomedical engineering and sciences; multiple new research institutes; and aligned clinical practices to improve patient care and train the workforce of the future.

Virtua Health is making a philanthropic investment of $85 million to Rowan University to create an endowment that will help support the partnership—fueling investments in faculty, educational programs, and the construction of a state-of-the-art research facility.

The two organizations share an overarching commitment to improving the health of New Jersey residents and creating a series of meaningful opportunities to:

  • educate and train the state’s next generation of physicians, nurses and allied health professionals;
  • innovate by researching, developing and testing new therapies, treatments, and models of care; and
  • increase health equity by meeting the needs of the underserved in the region.  

“The best health systems in the nation partner with great research institutions,” said Rowan University President Ali A. Houshmand. “Virtua Health is one of the leading health care providers in the state. To have earned Virtua’s confidence and to be the partner they choose to invest in is tremendous. We’re proud to share Virtua’s values and vision and to see a future where we can make a difference together. This landmark gift and our partnership will transform both institutions.”

“There has never been a more defining moment for our two respected organizations to come together to transform and reimagine the future of health care and the health care workforce than right now,” said Dennis W. Pullin, FACHE, president and CEO of Virtua Health. “This affiliation will further strengthen our relationship with Rowan so that we can innovate around the training of tomorrow’s physicians and health professionals and the critical research that will impact the future of health care in this community. I am excited about the purposeful things that we will do together and the lasting, here-for-good impact our efforts will have in New Jersey and beyond.”

“This partnership between two leading institutions will be for the betterment of South Jersey, its health and its economy,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney. “Both leadership teams should be lauded for their bold vision of becoming stronger and better—together.”

Benefits for South Jersey

Rowan and Virtua will collaborate to bring together leading clinicians and scientists to elevate care delivery, medical innovation, and education for New Jersey. The first three research institutes will focus on cardiovascular disease, solid organ transplant and regenerative medicine, and primary care. 

To further its goal to become a national leader in health care and biomedical research, the new college will recruit 50 new faculty investigators, including basic and clinician scientists, over the next 10 years. 

“This expansion is expected to generate more than $225 million in new research grants by 2032,” said Tony Lowman, provost, Rowan University. “This research will focus on translation of technologies to practice and have an important impact on patient care as well as put Rowan among the leading R1 research institutions in the country, representing the highest level of research activity at academic institutions.”

Plans also include the construction of a new facility to support basic, translational, and clinical research. 

The partnership also integrates the Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes School of Nursing with Rowan University School of Nursing & Health Professions. The collaboration will facilitate Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) students to apply through a single application process. Coursework will be delivered through a 3+1 program offered in conjunction with Rowan College of South Jersey, Rowan College at Burlington County and Camden County College, allowing students to earn a bachelor’s degree at a comparatively low cost.

An early outcome of the collaboration between Rowan and Virtua is the Nurturing Nurses program, which was announced at the graduation ceremony of Our Lady of Lourdes School of Nursing in mid-December. Nurturing Nurses invites Virtua-employed registered nurses to pursue a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) at Rowan University and have Virtua pay the tuition.

“Nurturing Nurses is an inspiring example of the immediate impact of this partnership. We are creating a pipeline of talented health care professionals while further establishing our region as a sought-after destination for a rewarding education,” said Reginald Blaber, M.D., executive vice president and chief clinical officer for Virtua. “The community will also benefit; this collaboration promises to elevate patient care and outcomes.”

Streamlined access to bachelor’s and master’s level programs will support the professional development and career advancement of nurses employed by Virtua and Rowan with seamless coordination between the classroom and clinical experience.

Additional allied health profession programs will be developed according to the community’s workforce needs.

In partnership with Rowan, Virtua also plans to expand its Graduate Medical Education program to train the workforce of the future and support medical student clinical rotations.

“As a major teaching affiliate of the University, Virtua Health will provide essential and vitally needed clinical experience for undergraduate medical, nursing and other health professions students to  help fill New Jersey’s need for highly skilled health care workers,” added Pullin. “Our intention is for this investment to also catalyze research in health sciences, leading to greater public and private funding for research and scholarship support for students most in need.” 

“A robust public-private partnership will better support Rowan’s growing osteopathic medical school and complement the University’s existing partnerships, strengthening research opportunities and investments,” said Houshmand. “Our educators, researchers, and health care professionals will be able to work together to develop and provide therapies that enhance life and solve problems for our neighbors and countless others whom we may never know.”