Cooper Medical School of Rowan University (CMSRU) is the winner of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) 2019 Spencer Foreman Award for Community Engagement, announced Annette C. Reboli, MD, Dean of CMSRU.
“This is an incredible honor from the national organization for U.S. medical schools that inspires us in the fulfillment of our mission to serve our community. We are so proud to be part of the positive changes happening in Camden,” commented Dr. Reboli. “We are grateful to the AAMC for recognizing the hard work and dedication of our students, faculty, and staff. Special thanks to the individuals, groups, and schools in this community, whose partnership has enabled our students to help address the educational, health, and wellness needs of countless Camden residents.”
This distinguished award – considered by many to be the top award that a medical school can receive for community engagement – recognizes an AAMC-member medical school or teaching hospital with a long-standing, major institutional commitment to partnering with the community it serves to identify and address community needs. The Foreman Award highlights community engagement as an important element of the academic mission and singles out institutions that serve as exemplars of social responsiveness on the part of the academic medical community.
“I congratulate Dean Reboli and everyone in the CMSRU community – this is an impressive achievement. CMSRU is home to some of the best and brightest medical professionals and students, and this honor is well-earned because the campus community is truly enriching our Camden community. The students, in particular, have gone above and beyond with their service projects, including their free, student-run medical clinic that expands access to health care in our area,” said Congressman Donald Norcross. “South Jersey is fast becoming a hub for world-class medical institutions and it’s encouraging to see the next generation of doctors and researchers at home in Camden. Our entire region benefits from the training and research happening locally, and South Jersey is certainly poised to make its mark on the future of science and medicine.”
“It’s understood that at CMSRU, education is not delivered exclusively within the walls of our building,” explained Jocelyn Mitchell-Williams, MD, CSMRU’s associate dean for diversity and community affairs. “We believe that engagement with the community not only benefits the community, but also helps our students become well-rounded, empathetic physicians who are better prepared to be both advocates for their patients and leaders in their communities.”
CMSRU’s service-learning initiatives and its student-run, free medical clinic were highlighted in the school’s nomination for the Spencer Foreman award.
Service Learning – the combination of teaching and learning with substantive community service – is a hallmark of the CMSRU curriculum and the heart of its pledge to give back to the community. Every CMSRU student is required to complete 30 to 40 hours of service learning each academic year, but most surpass that. In the 2018-19 academic year, students at CMSRU completed more than 17,500 hours of service in the Camden community. Among the 20 service-learning projects sponsored by CMSRU are programs that include tutoring and mentoring local children and teens through schools and community groups, delivering supplies and health information to the homeless populations at multiple locations throughout the city, working in a community garden, serving meals to the hungry, and coaching youth sports and fitness programs.
The Cooper Rowan Clinic (CRC) is a free, student-run medical clinic that aims to serve the city’s underserved population and reduce health care disparities in Camden. The clinic provides access to quality care for uninsured and underinsured patients over the age of 16. Medical students from CMSRU and pharmacy students from University of the Sciences in Philadelphia work together in teams to provide care to patients at the CRC, under close supervision of faculty physicians and pharmacists who are on site during clinic hours. In 2018, more than 600 patients were treated at the CRC.
CMSRU will be presented with the 2019 Spencer Foreman Award for Community Engagement at a special event during the AAMC’s annual meeting in November 2019.