Rowan-Virtua: Reimagining the future of medicine

Rowan-Virtua: Reimagining the future of medicine

Rowan-Virtua School of Osteopathic Medicine first-year medical school students (from left) Vivian Huang and Najira Ahmed share their vision for the future of medicine through the new Virtua Health College of Medicine & Life Sciences of Rowan University.

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 impact the practice of medicine and promote good health for all.

On Monday, Nov. 7, the top 100 public research university and the largest health system in South Jersey 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 united in a vision to improve the quality, experience and capabilities of health care for all people 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, resulting in improved health and well-being of all.

“It truly is a historic moment,” said Ali A. Houshmand, Ph.D., president of Rowan University. “I like to dream and I dream big. This partnership is beyond what I could have dreamed. 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.”

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.

“Today is a good day, because today we look back at all we have accomplished thus far and we also look ahead to the future we are building together,” said Dennis W. Pullin, FACHE, president and CEO of Virtua Health. Over the past year, many people worked together to create the new college, he noted.

“Everyone was focused. Everyone was excited. And everyone agreed that we could achieve more and be more by working together,” Pullin added.

Congressman Donald Norcross congratulated the institutions for their partnership and noted it stemmed from earlier state legislation that brought together Rowan University and the Stratford medical school.

“This is where great minds have come together to create the vision you have today,” Norcross said, “and that is something that is incredibly special, this academic relationship.”

New Jersey Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald said the combined investment from Rowan University and Virtua Health is “critically important.”

“We’ve seen a rush of people leave the profession,” Greenwald said. “This is an opportunity for us in New Jersey to attract a talented workforce from other states. This is a win-win for everyone across the board.”

Virtua Health College of Medicine & Life Sciences of Rowan University
The new college encompasses three distinct schools, their research centers and institutes.

Rowan-Virtua School of Osteopathic Medicine: New Jersey’s only osteopathic medical school. With campuses in Stratford and Sewell, Rowan-Virtua SOM admitted 272 students in 2022, the largest entering class of any New Jersey medical school. The school received the highest level of accreditation awarded by the Commission on College Accreditation for both campuses. Focused on meeting critical needs in primary care, the school has earned national regard for programs in geriatrics and pain management, among others.

Rowan-Virtua School of Nursing & Health Professions: Work is well underway to integrate the partners’ well-established education programs: Rowan’s nursing and health professions school (taught online and in Glassboro) and Virtua’s Our Lady of Lourdes School of Nursing, now located on Rowan’s Stratford campus. Once fully integrated, the expanded Rowan-Virtua School of Nursing & Health Professions will offer several degree pathways for prospective students and working health and wellness professionals. Students may pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees and specialized certificates for nurses, graduate degrees for health professionals, and undergraduate degrees in exercise science, nutrition, public health and wellness, and health promotion and wellness management.

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 cardiovascular disease, solid organ transplant and regenerative medicine, and health equity.

Future plans
Leadership teams from both institutions meet regularly to develop each element of the institutions’ affiliation agreement.

“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.”

Plans include:

  • the alignment of Rowan Medicine clinical practices with Virtua Medical Group;
  • construction of a five-story research and educational facility on Rowan’s West Campus, near the intersection of routes 322 and 55;
  • development of a four-year, residential Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program.

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