Rowan’s geriatric program ranked one of best in nation

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Rowan University’s School of Osteopathic Medicine (RowanSOM) was recently ranked 12th in the nation for geriatric medicine by U.S. News and World Report.

This recognition is determined by surveys given to deans, chairpersons of departments of medicine and other academic leaders across the country.

Geriatric medicine is medical care for the elderly, something that is growing in importance in today’s society.

“The population is greying,” said Dr. Thomas Cavalieri, dean of RowanSOM, a professor of medicine and the endowed chair for primary care research. “There are more and more older people in the country than there have been in the past.”

Right now, said Cavalieri, 13 percent of the population is over the age of 65, but by the year 2025, that will increase to about 16 percent and by the year 2030, it will be about 20 percent.

Dr. Anita Chopra, Director of the New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging and endowed chair for Geriatrics and Gerontology, has had a large influence in the creation of the Department of Geriatrics and Gerontology.

“When I came here [30 years ago], there [were] no geriatrics,” Chopra said. “I actually worked very closely with Dr. Cavalieri. We were in the same department and we started to develop a geriatric program at the school.”

Now, it is required that students study geriatric medicine as part of their physician training in RowanSOM, a feature that makes Rowan’s medical schools stand out above others.

“Our medical students in the second year have a four-week course in geriatric education,” Chopra said. “All our students in their third year have a mandatory one-month vocation in geriatrics, which is not the case in many other medical schools. Other schools may have it there, but it’s not a mandatory course incorporated in the curriculum.”

Rowan’s medical schools involve well-rounded educational ideologies, having a strong emphasis on primary care because that encourages physicians to look at the whole patient, including their mind, body and spirit.

“Having a good medical school is extremely important because these are future doctors,” Chopra said. “We want to make sure they are going to provide the best care to the patients that they’ll be caring for.”

In addition to creating good, well-rounded doctors, Rowan’s nationally recognized medical schools generate interest for the university.

“We are fortunate in Rowan to have two medical schools, Cooper School at Rowan University and Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine,” Cavalieri said. “This, therefore, makes Rowan University a very desirable place to come to college and to medical school because one could come to Rowan University, major in any one of the disciplines, and at the same time, pursue a career in medicine by going to one of the two medical schools.”

Graduates of Rowan’s medical schools have expressed appreciation for the education they received, feeling qualified to treat many different types of patients, but especially those who are older.

“As our students graduate, they are surveyed,” Chopra said. “They are asked if they feel well-prepared to care for older adults and our students do.”

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