Southern Ocean Medical Center Launches Mini-Medical School

May 8, 2018

From left to right (front row): Megan M. Vile, assistant principal assistant superintendent, High School School District; Jegan Cabhidon, medical student, Rowan University’s School of Osteopathic Medicine; Preysi Patel, medical student, Rowan University’s School of Osteopathic Medicine; Sara Lockwood, student leader, Southern Regional High School; Kyra Zoep Zdep, student leader, Southern Regional High School; Michelle Green, director of Practice Development and Optimization, Southern Ocean Medical Center. From left to right (second row): Steven Berkheiser, Southern Regional School District Board of Education president, Southern Regional School District; Paul Keyes, student leader, Southern Regional High School; Joseph Orrico, student leader, Southern Regional High School; Anthony Del Rio, student leader of Southern Regional High School; David Kountz, M.D. MBA, program director and co-chief academic officer of Hackensack Meridian Health; and Craig Henry, superintendent of Southern Regional High School School District. Absent from photo: Samantha Minafo, student leader, Southern Regional High School.

Students of Southern Regional High School got a taste of what it’s like to be a physician by attending Hackensack Meridian Health Southern Ocean Medical Center’s first annual mini-medical school. More than 100 juniors and seniors interested in the medical and health professions participated in the six-session educational enrichment program, March 6 through April 17.

“Medical school is a dream for many, and for students nearing the end of their high school careers who want to find out if the health care field is for them, a mini-medical school can be the first step on the path to reaching that goal,” said David S. Kountz, M.D., MBA, FACP, program director and co-chief academic officer of Hackensack Meridian Health.

“By partnering with Southern Regional High School, we are inspiring the next generation of health care professionals with informative, interactive sessions taught by our experienced and knowledgeable physicians and health professionals, who are committed to redefining the future of health care,” said Dean Q. Lin, MHA, MBA, FACHE, FCPP, regional president of Hackensack Meridian Health.

The opening session featured an introduction of the medical field by Dr. Kountz and, an interactive question and answer session by two medical students about what it is like to be in medical school. The ongoing weekly informative sessions featured guest speakers and hands-on demonstrations by Southern Ocean Medical Center’s expert physicians including: Kimberly A. Hogan, M.D., Francis J. Schanne, M.D., and Paul Mastrokyriakos, D.O. Students also had the opportunity to learn about various heath care professions during a panel discussion hosted by the medical center’s allied health practitioners.

“The young men and women who participated in the program were truly exceptional – not just because of their academic abilities, but these students were serious about defining their particular interest in health care and the next phase of their educational career,” explained Craig Henry, superintendent of Southern Regional High School. “They attended all six sessions and worked attentively to gain a better understanding of the art and science of medicine.”

The mini-med school concluded with a graduation ceremony with friends and family on Tuesday, April 17, with guest speaker and retired pediatrician, Richard Goldstein, M.D.

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Located in the heart of southern Ocean County, Hackensack Meridian Health Southern Ocean Medical Center has been caring for the community for more than 40 years. With more than 340 physicians and over 1,000 dedicated health care professionals, the 156-bed medical center provides comprehensive high-quality, advanced inpatient, outpatient and emergency services. Over the past several years, numerous investments to facilities and services have brought advanced treatments, breakthrough technologies and skilled expertise to patients throughout the community including: advanced imaging services for expert screening, diagnostics and treatment; laboratory services; pain management; telemedicine for stroke patients; maternity; sleep medicine; bariatric surgery; cardiovascular services, and rehabilitation, convenient outpatient locations as well as two urgent care centers. In 2016, the medical center opened a $20 million new state-of-the-art cancer center which provides multidisciplinary cancer treatment and advanced radiation therapies all in one location.

Southern Ocean Medical Center was recently named a Healthcare Heroes finalist in the category of “Hospital of the Year” by NJBIZ and received a letter “A” grade from The Leapfrog Group’s Hospital Safety Score initiative – the highest-possible safety score a health care facility can achieve. The nurses and allied health providers are also consistently recognized as providing high-quality, personalized care to patients and their families. In 2017, the nursing team achieved Magnet® status for the first time, the nation’s highest honor of nursing excellence for nursing practice, quality and safety in patient care.

As a member of Hackensack Meridian Health, one of New Jersey’s most comprehensive health networks, Southern Ocean Medical Center provides local residents with more access to advanced specialized care, close to home. This powerful new alliance provides Southern Ocean Medical Center patients with new treatments, technology and expertise in their own backyard, with additional care options available quickly through the connection with Hackensack Meridian Health.

Hackensack Meridian Health is a leading not-for-profit health care organization that is the most comprehensive and truly integrated health care network in New Jersey, offering a complete range of medical services, innovative research and life-enhancing care. Hackensack Meridian Health comprises 16 hospitals from Bergen to Ocean counties, which includes three academic medical centers – Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, JFK Medical Center in Edison; two children’s hospitals – Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital in Hackensack, K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital in Neptune; 11 community hospitals – Ocean Medical Center in Brick, Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, Mountainside Medical Center in Montclair, Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy, Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin, Bayshore Medical Center in Holmdel, Raritan Bay Medical Center in Old Bridge, and Pascack Valley Medical Center in Westwood, JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute in Edison and Shore Rehabilitation Institute in Brick.

Additionally, the network has more than 160 patient care locations throughout the state which include ambulatory care centers, surgery centers, home health services, long-term care and assisted living communities, ambulance services, lifesaving air medical transportation, fitness and wellness centers, rehabilitation centers, and urgent care and after-hours centers. Hackensack Meridian Health has 33,000 team members, and 6,500 physicians and is a distinguished leader in health care philanthropy, committed to the health and well-being of the communities it serves.

The network’s notable distinctions include having one of only five major academic medical centers in the nation to receive Healthgrades America’s 50 Best Hospitals Award for five or more consecutive years, four hospitals among the top 10 in New Jersey, including Hackensack University Medical Center which is ranked No. 1 by U.S. News and World Report. Other honors include consistently achieving Magnet® recognition for nursing excellence from the American Nurses Credentialing Center, recipient of the John M. Eisenberg Award for Patient Safety and Quality from The Joint Commission and the National Quality Forum, a six-time recipient of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For,” one of the “20 Best Workplaces in Health Care” in the nation, and the number one “Best Place to Work for Women.” Hackensack Meridian Health is a member of AllSpire Health Partners, an interstate consortium of leading health systems, to focus on the sharing of best practices in clinical care and achieving efficiencies.

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