Several months ago, the RBHS Chancellor formed a “Committee on the Future of Medical Education,” comprised of mostly Rutgers faculty administrators. This committee is tasked with making a recommendation as to how Rutgers’s two medical schools, New Jersey Medical School and the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School could merge together or align in some fashion.
We are disappointed that the Committee, as the Chancellor configured it, does not include more faculty members who were nominated by the RBHS Faculty Council, the NJMS Faculty Organization, and the RWJMS Faculty Council. We think that these bodies, along with the University Senate should play a substantial role in any fundamental restructuring decision. This would ensure that all Rutgers stakeholders including staff, students, and the surrounding community are fully engaged.
While there are some theoretical benefits to combining the two medical schools, we strongly believe that it is premature to do so at this time. We are still not entirely clear as to what Rutgers’s alignment with RWJBH will look like. That partnership alone touches on many areas such as graduate medical education, research support, and the assigning of clinical practice revenue, just to name a few. With so many multiple ongoing and simultaneous changes to the landscape in which the faculty have to discharge their duties (relationship with RWJBH, role of University Hospital, change in practice plan structure), further concurrent change would be unsettling, destabilizing, and demoralizing to the faculty. The current transformations are leading to difficulty in understanding how to fulfill one’s role now and in the future; therefore, any additional simultaneous restructuring should be best left to after the institutional relationships determined by the already ongoing evolution have been clarified.
Further, we understand that the Committee has promised that one medical school would not become a “regional campus” of the other. We hope that the committee fulfills this promise, as this model would ignore the historical significance of each medical school’s importance to its community. For instance, a scenario where Robert Wood Johnson Medical School is the prime location could lead to resources and staff being taken away from University Hospital. This could erode its standing as an academic teaching hospital.
We also oppose any attempts to use a restructuring plan to reduce the number of faculty positions, decrease tenure, relocate faculty offices or laboratories, and any other potentially adverse effects. We sincerely hope the Committee takes these concerns to heart before making its final recommendations.