Rutger’s medical school not seen as competition

About two and a half years ago, Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill that merged Rutgers University and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), and gave Rutgers nearly all of UMDNJ in Newark and Piscataway.

Now, with Seton Hall’s own proposal to start a private medical school, the question is how much competition will there be in New Jersey for, educational development funds, medical students and their sky-high tuition payments.

Nj.com reported that this act led to UMDNJ being eliminated and seven of its eight schools being put under Rutgers.

“In an instant, Rutgers will become a 65,000-student school with a $3 billion budget. It will rank among the top 25 research universities in the nation, with more research spending than Harvard, Yale or Northwestern University,” Nj.com reported when the news broke.

The New Jersey Medical and Health Sciences Education Restructuring Act was passed by both houses of the New Jersey Legislature on Jun. 28, 2012.

Christie said that the bill would draw more research money to New Jersey and turn Rutgers into a “powerhouse,” according to Nj.com.

While this Rutgers monopoly wiped out UMDNJ, Seton Hall University a few weeks ago announced its plans to form a new medical school, New Jersey’s first private medical school in decades, through a partnership with Hackensack University Health Network (UHN).

Laurie Pine, the University’s director of media relations, said in an email she does not see Rutgers as competition for the proposed medical school, but as complementary to “the state’s public programs by providing a high-quality private medical education alternative that will greatly benefit the residents of New Jersey and beyond.”

She said she believes establishing a private medical school, backed by two esteemed institutions, will attract the “best and brightest.”

The 2012 act giving UMDNJ to Rutgers is not a factor in Seton Hall’s new venture into operating a medical school, according to Pine. She said after consulting with the University’s Government Relations office, that no one found any suggestion of it negatively affecting Seton Hall, or having any relation to the HackensackUHN partnership.

“With Gov. Christie, executive branch leaders and legislative leaders in attendance and participating in the medical school announcement, it indicates that the State of New Jersey supports the effort and the many economic, health and educational benefits it will bring to the people of New Jersey,” Pine said.

HackensackUHN wrote in a press release that this partnership will help combat a predicted shortage of 2,500 physicians in New Jersey by 2020. Robert Garrett, president and CEO of HackensackUHN said he is excited to be taking the step toward a partnership with the University.

“The school of medicine will create thousands of highly skilled jobs for New Jerseyans in the years to come, attracting new businesses to relocate to our great state to take advantage of our highly skilled workforce,” Garret said in the release.

“HackensackUHN and SHU’s joint venture to create a premier academic institution will help combat this physician shortage by providing key educational, research and career opportunities to incentivize the next generation to pursue a career in medicine,” Pine commented.

As for funding the University will need to pay for the medical school, Pine said it is too early to talk about.

“Primary funding will be from HackensackUHN and SHU. The school of medicine is a collaborative endeavor and plans include seeking funding from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, local municipalities and private philanthropy,” Pine said in an email.

Lindsay Rittenhouse can be reached at lindsay.rittenhouse@student.shu.edu.

Author: Lindsay Rittenhouse

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