Newswise — STRATFORD – The Department of Family Medicine at the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine (RowanSOM) has been awarded the first of a five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Health Resources and Services Administration to administer New Jersey’s three Area Health Education Center (NJ AHEC) programs. When completed, five-year funding for the award will exceed $1.5 million. Under this grant, RowanSOM will lead initiatives to increase the number of health professions students who will pursue careers in primary care and who are prepared to practice in underserved areas of New Jersey.   

“This award provides us with the opportunity to train medical students and other health professionals about the special needs of the underserved," said RowanSOM Dean Dr. Thomas A. Cavalieri.  

Over the next five years, the NJ AHEC project will seek to: enroll more than 200 health professions students in a new program that prepares them to care for vulnerable populations; organize community-based training for 750 medical students to help prepare them to provide medical care for underserved populations; provide health careers education to 200 individuals that encourages them to practice in medically underserved areas; and provide continuing education in serving health disparities populations for at least 900 health professionals. 

Dr. Joshua Coren, Chair of RowanSOM’s Department of Family Medicine noted the importance of educating both current and future health care providers through NJ AHEC. 

“The Department of Family Medicine is proud and honored to lead a project focused on educating medical students, psychologists, and many other health related profession students to enhance their service leadership and community involvement for counties that lack access to adequate health care,” he said. “Through education programs, we can help address both the current and future needs of the medically underserved populations in South Jersey.” 

Dr. Xitlalichomiha O’Dell, the director of the NJ AHEC program, added, “We are excited to be able to provide education and training to health professionals with the goal of increasing the diversity and distribution of a health care workforce that is representative of the communities we serve and that can help address health disparities and improve the delivery of health care in the state.”  

In 1978, AHECs around the country were created as part of a national initiative to strengthen the health of underserved communities. The NJ AHEC program – comprised of Camden, Garden and Shore AHECs – serves seven counties in the southern area of the state and is the only AHEC in New Jersey.

About Rowan University

Rowan University is a Carnegie-classified doctoral research institution dedicated to excellence in undergraduate education. It offers bachelor’s through doctoral programs to 18,500 students through its campuses in Glassboro, Camden and Stratford, New Jersey. Home to Cooper Medical School of Rowan University and the School of Osteopathic Medicine, it is only the second university in the nation to grant both M.D. and D.O. medical degrees. In addition, Rowan comprises the William G. Rohrer College of Business; the Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering; the colleges of Communication & Creative Arts; Education; Humanities & Social Sciences; Performing Arts; and Science & Mathematics; the School of Health Professions; the School of Earth & Environment and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Rowan is collaborating with regional leaders to create research and academic programs in health sciences. It has earned national recognition for innovation, commitment to high-quality, affordable education and developing public-private partnerships.