Future Physicians at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine and New Jersey Communities to Benefit from $1 Million Gift to School’s Human Dimension Program

May 10, 2022

A $1 million gift to the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine from Roger and Carin Ehrenberg will support the school’s Human Dimension program, which benefits both medical students and New Jersey communities. A three-year course, the Human Dimension program provides service-learning experiences and an integrated curriculum for medical students in which they come to understand the many Determinants of Health, including personal, economic and environmental determinants that greatly impact health.

"The Human Dimension program is foundational to the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine’s innovative curriculum," said Robert C. Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health. "We are grateful for this generous gift which will help us continue to reinvent medical education to create a physician workforce that will thrive in a new state of health care that focuses as much on prevention as curing illness."

Since its start in 2018, 335 students in the Human Dimension program have cared for 257 families in nine communities across five counties, and have taken on 35 community health projects. The program’s 35 faculty members have been integral in the success of the program and in leading another key aspect of it: the Professional Identity Formation curriculum. This training includes reflection, narrative medicine, resilience-building, mindfulness and other skills and activities to support student development as resilient, empathic professionals able to meet the needs of their patients. 

"By matching our future physicians to individuals and families from underserved areas, and through interactions over the entire core curriculum, they become involved in all aspects of a family’s life to understand drivers of health outcomes, provide education and navigate community resources,” said Jeffrey Boscamp, M.D., interim dean of Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine. 

The school’s commitment to improving community health has garnered much recognition, including the American Hospital Association’s NOVA award. The Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine was one of just five institutions to be recognized.

"Carin and I have long believed that medical care needs to take into account the whole individual, not merely reported symptoms,” says Roger Ehrenberg. "This means understanding where and how someone lives, what stressors exist and why, and other physical and psychological forces that drive their behaviors. 

"Traditional medical training has given short shrift to context, which often has profound impacts on a patient's physical and emotional well-being,” added Ehrenberg. "This is a problem we wanted to address both with respect to training subsequent generations of medical professionals to take these factors into account, but also to develop empathy and perspective by incorporating these kinds of challenges and communities into their medical training and curriculum.”

The gift provided by the Ehrenbergs will cover nearly all annual costs to implement the Human Dimension program for one year, including core faculty and team member positions, a mix of full- and part-time, and include clinical faculty teachers, curriculum development, associate dean supervision and support and operations costs such as interpreter services and community events.

"We are so thankful to Roger and Carin for their compassion and generosity,” says Joyce P. Hendricks, president and chief development officer, Hackensack Meridian Health Foundation. "The COVID-19 pandemic shone a spotlight on the undeniable health care disparities we face as a nation, and programs, like the Human Dimension program, are just one of the ways in which we can truly make headway in establishing equal health care for all."

To learn more about how you can make a gift in support of Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, please contact Joseph Burt, executive director, at 551-358-8269, joseph.burt@hmhn.org or by donating here. To learn more about, or to support Hackensack Meridian Health Foundation, please email giving@hmhn.org.

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