Cooper Medical School of Rowan University in downtown Camden, N.J., has won preliminary accreditation and can now start recruiting students.
The school will accept its first class of 50 students in August of 2012, but the multi-step accreditation process can not be completed until the first students graduate in 2016.
Dean Dr. Paul Katz said the school will focus recruitment efforts on students in New Jersey through open houses and college visits as well as outreach efforts online, all with the aim of alleviating the longtime doctor shortage in South Jersey.
“We’re looking for New Jersey students first and foremost,” Katz said. “The number of students who have to leave the state of New Jersey every year to get their medical education is appallingly large, and we want to help stem some of that tide.”
Katz said the school will work to place students in residency programs in the area for the same reason.
“There’s current and impending huge physician shortages in New Jersey and we’re hoping to reduce some of that gap,” Katz said.
Cooper is the ninth school nationwide to gain preliminary accreditation in the past few years. Some of the new schools will focus on forging ties to the community and encouraging students to pursue primary care in the area once they graduate. Maryjoan Ladden, from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said it is too soon to tell whether these new efforts will work.
“It’s an incredibly important experiment, but it is an experiment at this point,” Ladden said.
The school is a partnership between Cooper University Hospital and Rowan University.