Newswise — June 3, 2021, Nutley, NJ – Eighteen students from the first class of the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine will graduate this evening – and start their medical careers.

The medical students, who began working toward their degrees in 2018, will have graduated in an accelerated three-year program after tonight’s commencement at the School of Medicine campus. All will start residencies across the Hackensack Meridian Health network.  

“This is the fulfillment of a dream to improve our health system, from its very foundations,” said Robert C. Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health.  “Leading progressive and positive change in medicine starts with training the professionals who treat patients. This school is now shaping a better future for our state – and beyond.” 

“We are achieving our vision,” said Bonita Stanton, M.D., the School’s founding dean. “These 18 students have already contributed to the communities they serve, and their careers bring so much promise into our future. This is a proud day.” 

The students will begin their residencies in a variety of disciplines including anesthesiology, internal medicine, psychiatry, pediatrics, emergency medicine, and neurology at Hackensack University Medical Center, Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Ocean Medical Center, and JFK University Medical Center. The students were informed of their residencies in a virtual “Match Day” held in March – a first for the institution. 

Hackensack Meridian Health partnered with Seton Hall University and opened the school on the Nutley-Clifton campus on Route 3 three years ago. The agreement was restructured in 2018, and the School achieved independent accreditation in July 2020. 

The School of Medicine’s inaugural class in 2018 included 60 students; the other students from that class have opted for the traditional four-year track and will have their graduation next spring. 

Enrollment and admissions have increased since its founding. The class incoming in 2019 admitted 90 students. Another 122 students made up the 2020 cohort, as selected from more than 5,000 applicants. The latest incoming class will number more than 150, admitted from more than 6,000 candidates. 

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

The school’s innovative approach includes several distinctive features.

Students have the opportunity for a three-year path to residency, or an optional fourth year which offers combined master’s degree or graduate certificate programs, intense clinical immersion, or focused research.

Inter-disciplinary learning adds to a curriculum that is mission-based, and designed to create physicians who are humanistic, socially responsible and collaborative across the health care system. The goal is to train professionals who are equally adept at biomedical intricacies, as they are at the behavioral, social, and health system sciences used to treat people. Classes on anatomy, molecular and cellular principles, and neuroscience and behavior, are required like they are at other schools. But at the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, the basic science is always placed in its clinical context. 

The Human Dimension Course is a distinctive way to place the students in this clinical context. From the first day of the degree program, this immersive community-based experience links pairs of students to families in the community, with a focus on four domains of health: social, environmental, psychological, and medical. Throughout their pursuit of the degree, 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 School is at the vanguard of the medical education needed in the 21st century,” said Jeffrey Boscamp, M.D., vice dean of the medical school and a professor of pediatrics. “In just a few short years, we have made this School a reality – and it is already making a difference.”

The commencement also marks another milestone toward full accreditation by agencies like that of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). The School received “provisional” accreditation from the LCME earlier this year.



The Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, the first private medical school in New Jersey in more than 50 years, welcomed its first class of students in 2018 to its On3 campus in Nutley and Clifton. Hackensack Meridian Health assumed its independent operation in July 2020. The school’s vision is that each person in New Jersey, and in the United States, regardless of race or socioeconomic status, will enjoy the highest levels of wellness in an economically and behaviorally sustainable fashion. The School’s unique curriculum focuses on linking the basic science with clinical relevance, through an integrated curriculum in a team-oriented, collaborative environment. The school prides itself on outreach, through programs like the Human Dimension, which is active in communities across New Jersey.



Hackensack Meridian Health is a leading not-for-profit health care organization that is the largest, most comprehensive and truly integrated health care network in New Jersey, offering a complete range of medical services, innovative research and life-enhancing care.

Hackensack Meridian Health comprises 17 hospitals from Bergen to Ocean counties, which includes three academic medical centers – Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, JFK Medical Center in Edison; two children’s hospitals - Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital in Hackensack, K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital in Neptune; nine community hospitals – Bayshore Medical Center in Holmdel, Mountainside Medical Center in Montclair, Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, Pascack Valley Medical Center in Westwood, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Old Bridge, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, and Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin; a behavioral health hospital – Carrier Clinic in Belle Mead; and two rehabilitation hospitals - JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute in Edison and Shore Rehabilitation Institute in Brick.

Additionally, the network has more than 500 patient care locations throughout the state which include ambulatory care centers, surgery centers, home health services, long-term care and assisted living communities, ambulance services, lifesaving air medical transportation, fitness and wellness centers, rehabilitation centers, urgent care centers and physician practice locations. Hackensack Meridian Health has more than 36,000 team members, and over 7,000 physicians and is a distinguished leader in health care philanthropy, committed to the health and well-being of the communities it serves.

The network’s notable distinctions include having four hospitals among the top in New Jersey by U.S. News and World Report. Other honors include consistently achieving Magnet® recognition for nursing excellence from the American Nurses Credentialing Center and being named to Becker’s Healthcare’s “150 Top Places to Work in Healthcare/2019” list.

The Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine opened in 2018, the first private medical school in New Jersey in more than 50 years, welcomed its third class of students in 2020 to its On3 campus in Nutley and Clifton. Additionally, the network partnered with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to find more cures for cancer faster while ensuring that patients have access to the highest quality, most individualized cancer care when and where they need it.

Hackensack Meridian Health is a member of AllSpire Health Partners, an interstate consortium of leading health systems, to focus on the sharing of best practices in clinical care and achieving efficiencies.


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