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RWJBarnabas' partnership with Rutgers likely to cost other med schools their student slots

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Barry Ostrowsky, CEO of RWJBarnabas Health:
Barry Ostrowsky, CEO of RWJBarnabas Health: "It's not whimsical that we would make a change. This is a difficult, complicated, anxiety-provoking time." - ()

RWJBarnabas Health will likely be cutting ties with several universities as part of the new partnership with Rutgers University, NJBIZ has learned.

The health system will be prioritizing medical students from Rutgers for its available student slots, according to RWJBarnabas CEO Barry Ostrowsky.

“Our priority academic partner is Rutgers medical schools,” Ostrowsky said. “The extent to which Rutgers needs teaching slots, our job is to make certain Rutgers ... our system is able to meet its needs. After that, if we have the ability to accommodate other relationships, we can maintain other relationships.”

One school has already been given the boot.

Drexel University, in Philadelphia, has had a longstanding relationship with Monmouth Medical Center, but has been put on notice, Ostrowsky said.

“Unfortunately, we had to tell Drexel they had to find another venue because Monmouth will now, in fact, accommodate Rutgers students,” he said. “We have other medical school affiliations which will be impacted. To what degree, we are not certain, but we will get to know in the next 60 days.”

The agreement ends next year.

The decision was not made lightly, Ostrowsky said.

“It’s not whimsical that we would make a change. This is a difficult, complicated, anxiety-provoking time for health care and medical education,” he said.

That includes the ongoing changes in policy and practice around the country, and an impending physician shortage.

“It’s exactly that environment that drives us to want to take a physician as a partner at a medical school,” Ostrowsky said, referring to Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences Chancellor Brian Strom.

And, with the changes in medical education moving towards team care, rather than relying on just physician care, Ostrowsky said the calculation being used to estimate a future physician shortage is actually irrelevant.

The relationship with Rutgers has been building over time.

Most recently, the two embarked on the joint search that resulted in the naming of Steven Libutti as the director of the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. He now reports directly to both Rutgers President Robert Barchi and Ostrowsky.

“We had a real, live operating model to what it meant to do this in partnership form,” Ostrowsky said. “We used it as a model for this partnership.”

Ostrowsky said that idea of a deeply engaged partnership, rather than a renewable contract, is the way he wants to roll out the venture with Rutgers.

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