Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine Achieves Provisional   

Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine Achieves Provisional Accreditation

Major accrediting body advances School's status, bringing institution closer to full accreditation for first new medical school in New Jersey in decades

The Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine has been granted Provisional Accreditation by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), bringing it nearer to Full Accreditation.

The LCME voted at its meeting this month to grant Provisional Accreditation to the School's medical education program. Full Accreditation will require its first class of students to graduate.

Coming soon this year: a "match day" in March for select students from the inaugural class, followed in June by the School's first-ever commencement ceremony.

"This medical school has been surpassing expectation since day one," said Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, the CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health.  "Its progressive mission and commitment to excellence has already created a reputation that is getting noticed in New Jersey, and beyond."

"Building a new medical school is not an easy task, as one might imagine," said Bonita Stanton, M.D., the School's founding dean. "But our unique mission and vision are worth this massive undertaking, and we are gratified that all the hard work is coming to fruition."

Aside from the LCME, the School has received its license from the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education (OSHE); is a Candidate for Accreditation with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE); and is eligible for, and participates in, the management of Title IV funds through the U.S. Department of Education.

The School has grown quickly in the three years since its founding. Its inaugural class in 2018 included 60 students, and the 2019 class admitted 90 students. Another 123 students made up the 2020 cohort, as selected from more than 5,000 applicants. The latest incoming class is expected to number 165, who will have been admitted from more than 6,000 candidates.

The school also aims to diversify New Jersey's next generation of physicians.  Nearly half of the 2020 cohort is female, and students speak 33 different languages. Half of the class identifies as persons of color (other than white), and more than a quarter are from groups categorized as under-represented in medicine (URIM).

The school's innovative curriculum includes inter-disciplinary learning, the opportunity for a three-year path to residency, an optional fourth year which offers combined master's degree or graduate certificate programs, and the Human Dimension Course. This immersive community-based experience links pairs of students to families in the community, with a focus on the domains of the social determinants of health: social, environmental, psychological, and medical. Throughout their stay at the School of Medicine, students in the Human Dimension follow the health trajectories of individuals and families, in locations including Hackensack, Garfield, Paterson, Passaic, Bloomfield, Clifton, Nutley, Union City, and West New York. Through experiences in the family's home, community, and health care settings, students come to understand the role of community and context in health and well-being, as well as the role of the physician in maintaining health.

This humanistic mission has continued through the COVID-19 era. Although some of the first-year students have conducted their studies remotely, they nonetheless have continued their community-based medical education. The Human Dimension course, for instance, has helped partners get access to care and safely reopen schools in midst of the pandemic.

Last July, the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine achieved independent operation, after three years of partnership between Hackensack Meridian Health and Seton Hall University. The university continues to lease space in the health network's Interprofessional Health Sciences campus in Nutley, in which the School of Medicine is housed, for its College of Nursing and School of Health and Medical Sciences.

"We are forging a new path – and we believe that it will make all the difference for all the new doctors in the years to come," said Stanton.

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