Hackensack Meridian Health will bear the full financial responsibility of operating a private medical school with Seton Hall University that will open in July, NJ Advance Media has learned.
Seton Hall issued a statement Monday saying the “tremendous investment” was more than it could afford.
“From the beginning, Seton Hall administrators knew that the opening of a new school of medicine and the creation of a new Interprofessional Health Sciences campus would be incredibly complex projects, requiring tremendous investment and coordination with our partners at Hackensack Meridian Health,” university spokeswoman Laurie Pine said in an emailed statement.
“As the process continued to evolve, it became increasingly clear that the original structure of the partnership needed to be revised,” the statement said. “Seton Hall University will continue to have the academic responsibilities and will issue the diplomas to medical students upon graduation.”
In a joint statement, Seton Hall and Hackensack Meridian confirmed, “Hackensack Meridian Health is taking on the financial responsibility of operating the School of Medicine beginning July 1, 2018.”
The new arrangement will change not affect the medical school’s opening. In just two weeks, the school has received 1,872 applications for its inaugural class of 55 students.
“What hasn’t changed is how incredibly excited we are,” said Jeffrey R. Boscamp, the associate dean of Medical Education Continuum at Hackensack Meridian. “We opened admissions two weeks ago and received almost 2,000 applications. We started interviewing last week, and acceptance letters are going out a week or two.
“On July 9, students will be in the classroom,” Boscamp said.
The shift in responsibilities is reflected in the institution’s name, which is now the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University. When the school won preliminary accreditation in February, the school was called Seton Hall-Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine.
The school retains its preliminary accreditation status, said John Buarotti, spokesman for the Association of American Medical Colleges.
In a separate action demonstrating its commitment to the school’s success, the Board of Trustees for Hackensack Meridian last month approved a $100 million endowment to fund scholarships, the statement said.
Tuition is approximately $60,000, but with the endowment, “we are expecting we are going to bring that down substantially,” Boscamp said. The school also offers year-round classes, enabling students to finish in three years, instead of four years, to cut down on loan debt, he added.
Seton Hall’s initial financial commitment to the project was never publicly revealed, and Boscamp declined to explain how much more the hospital network will have to spend as a result of the new arrangement.
But Hackensack Meridian — the largest hospital and health care network in New Jersey — “has already seen financial benefit,” Boscamp said. “We have been able to recruit physicians from around the country with the promise of new medical school.”
The medical school, Seton Hall’s College of Nursing and its School of Health and Medical Sciences will share the 17-acre campus in Clifton and Nutley once occupied by Hoffmann-La Roche, an international pharmaceutical and health services company which relocated to California five years ago.
In a letter to the university community, Seton Hall interim President Mary J. Meehan outlined the changes in the arrangement with Hackensack Meridian and the benefits to students.
“The University’s strategic academic partnership with Hackensack Meridian is comprehensive and will continue well beyond the School of Medicine’s transition,” Meehan wrote. “Our nursing and health science students will have broad access to train at Hackensack Meridian’s 16 hospitals in the state, four of which are ranked among the top 10 in New Jersey.”
One-quarter of the class accepted each year will be set aside for Seton Hall students, “a valuable benefit in the very competitive environment for medical education,” she said.
“Eventually, the school will be administered solely by Hackensack Meridian Health after a defined transition process,” Meehan wrote.
The medical school’s goal is to educate and retain more medical students in New Jersey, which, like the rest of the country, is suffering from a physician shortage.
The Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University joins four public medical training institutions in the state: Rutgers New Jersey Medical School in Newark; Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick; Rowan University’s School of Osteopathic Medicine, Stratford; and Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, Camden.
NJ Advance Media Staff Writer Adam Clark contributed to this report.