Health science campus opens, home to state’s newest med school

BY Briana Vannozzi, Senior Correspondent |

The new campus sits on 17-acres in Clifton and Nutley and houses Seton Hall’s College of Nursing, School of Health and Medical Science, and of course the brand-new medical school with Hackensack Meridian Health. It’s one of few in the nation to cross health care disciplines in an academic setting.

“It means they’ll be learning the way they’ll be working when they’re finished, so they will get used to working on teams from the get-go instead of just working in their own discipline,” said Seton Hall University Interim President Mary Meehan. “They’ll have an opportunity to see just how medical professionals work as a team in the health care setting.”

That means students from all three schools will get to use the shiny, new labs and latest technology. The facilities were being shown off Tuesday for an official opening, though students have been attending since midsummer.

“We believe it will provide really the necessary pipeline of physicians for the state of New Jersey, literally, for generations to come,” said Robert Garrett, Hackensack Meridian Health co-CEO. “We’re talking about 3,000 students here in New Jersey — 150,000 nationally — so there is a significant shortage. Particularly in some of the specialties — primary care, general surgery — and we’re cognizant of that and we’re focused on our curriculum to address those specialties as well.”

“It’s a really nice building. Definitely a lot different than the South Orange campus, so I feel like I’ll probably get a better education here,” said nursing student Tiffany Zapata.

Sixty students were accepted to the first medical school class. They’ll complete their training at any one of the 16 Hackensack Meridian Health hospitals. Tuesday, Cardinal Joseph Tobin performed the rite of blessing as students start a rigorous workload.

“I think the unique feature of this partnership between a leading health system and a faith-based university is to prepare women and men in those three areas of science, for those moments when the hands reach their limit,” said Cardinal Joseph Tobin, the Archbishop of Newark.

IHS, or the Interprofessional Health Sciences Campus, is considered the anchor in the redevelopment of the former Hoffman La Roche headquarters. There’s big hope it’ll bring a needed economic boost to the area.

“With the additions of Quest Diagnostics, Modern Meadow, who’s a biofabrication firm, Ralph Lauren, this campus — with the school as the centerpiece — this campus is fast becoming the premiere life science, education, research and international design innovation hub — not only in New Jersey but in the metro area,” said Nutley Mayor Joseph Scarpelli.

Medical student Caden Quintanilla is a member of the inaugural class.

“It’s exciting, but also difficult. We’re kind of like the guinea pigs a little but and we have to figure out the kinks, going through the first time of exams and course work — is it too much, is it the right amount? Are the exams too hard, are they too difficult? So kind of being the guinea pigs, but it’s also exciting because we kind of get to pave the way and make the school our own,” he said.

As the first private medical school to open in the state in 60 years, everyone is now looking to what the next 60 will bring.