Community Medical Center Proudly Launches Academic Medical Program

Community Medical Center Proudly Launches
Academic Medical Program

CMC Welcomes Inaugural Medical Residency Class

TOMS RIVER, N.J. – On July 1, Community Medical Center (CMC), an RWJBarnabas Health facility, marked the start of its transition to becoming a leading academic medical center by welcoming its inaugural class of medical residents from Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. The first class of medical residents will consist of 12 residents in Internal Medicine, 12 in Emergency Medicine and three in Podiatry.

The transition to an academic medical center represents a significant transformative landmark for CMC as the hospital celebrates its 60-year anniversary. Opened as a community hospital in 1961 with only 50 beds, CMC now cares for over 21,000 inpatients, over 175,000 outpatients and nearly 70,000 emergency department patients each year. Its recognition as an academic medical center will further expand access to premier health care services, cutting edge research and enhanced access to clinical trials for the surrounding communities it serves.

This tremendous accomplishment has been made possible through RWJBarnabas Health’s partnership with Rutgers University and the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, which trains 1,600 medical residents each year across the system at various RWJBarnabas Health facilities.

“This is an incredible achievement for Community Medical Center and will provide extraordinary benefits to our patients, the community and our team members,” said Patrick Ahearn, Chief Executive Officer, Community Medical Center. “This is a long-awaited and critical milestone in the hospital’s history. We couldn’t be prouder to take our place amongst our RWJBarnabas Health facilities in training the next generation of physician leaders,” he said.

“We will realize our transformation from a community hospital to a leading academic medical center over the next several years as we add more medical specialties to our portfolio of programs for residents each year,” Mr. Ahearn added.

In 2019, CMC embarked on their journey in developing the medical residency program. Specialty areas of study were chosen based on the patient population, which is highly concentrated on older adults (about 70 percent are Medicare patients). Therefore, the primary areas of focus for the program include emergency medicine, internal medicine and podiatry, each of which involves three years of clinical training.

As part of the application process with the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), CMC outlined its plan for educating medical students including assigning a residency program director and a rotation schedule for students as well as a place for the residents to study, learn and live.

Through a program conducted by Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School faculty, current CMC physicians took part in a faculty development program to learn how to effectively teach and train while fostering challenging and inspirational moments in the process to prepare residents for their medical careers.

“Through our partnership with Rutgers University, RWJBarnabas Health serves as New Jersey’s largest academic healthcare system featuring world-class medical education for the physicians of tomorrow,” said Meika Neblett, MD, MS, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Academic Officer at CMC. “With the opportunity to learn in our facilities alongside access to the latest in clinical research, medical students can grow into the future leaders of healthcare. Residency and fellowship programs training at CMC will benefit from the resources and interprofessional opportunities available through the Rutgers Health institutional sponsorship.”

In September 2019, CMC’s application with ACGME was approved serving as a critical step in advancing academic medicine in the region. Residents began having virtual interviews for the program and “matching” took place in March 2021 and now, for the first time in the hospital’s 60 years, residency will begin.

“We are very proud to invest in the future of medicine and the future of Ocean County,” said Sherry C. Huang MD, Vice Chancellor for Graduate Medical Education at Rutgers Health. “These residency programs will not only train the next generation of exceptional doctors but also ensure our patients have access to the latest research and life-changing discoveries through the partnership between Rutgers University and RWJBarnabas Health.”

In addition, preparations for the program included the creation of a wellness program for residents as well as renovations that provide facilities such as an auditorium, study rooms, conference and learning spaces, offices and resident lounges. Thanks to the generous support of the Grunin Foundation, space has been renovated within the hospital specifically for the new Graduate Medical Education program. The recently opened Grunin Graduate Medical Education Wing includes conference, education, and quiet study areas for residents in addition to office space for the program’s leadership.

Jeremy Grunin, President, Grunin Foundation; Heather Barberi, Executive Director, Grunin Foundation; Jay Grunin, Chairman, Grunin Foundation; Azize Grunin; Patrick Ahearn, Chief Executive Officer, Community Medical Center, Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari, Ocean County, and Meika Neblett, MD, MS, Chief Medical & Academic Officer, Community Medical Center, took part in a ribbon cutting ceremony at the celebration to open the Grunin Graduate Medical Education Wing at Community Medical Center.

One of the first to join CMC’s inaugural class is Nileena Johnkutty, DO, who was accepted into the Emergency Medicine program after attending New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Johnkutty, cites the hospital’s collaborative and supportive culture as one of the main reasons she chose CMC for her residency. Dr. Johnkutty felt that joining a new program provided her with more opportunities for leadership in medicine and found it inspiring that she could help shape the program for future classes.

Nileena Johnkutty, DO, an Emergency Medicine resident in Community Medical Center's Graduate Medical Education program, receives her long coat from Nicole Maguire, DO, FACEP, Program Director, Emergency Medicine, (left), and Danielle Biggs, MD, Associate Program Director, Emergency Medicine, (right) during the program's Long Coat Ceremony. Dr. Johnkutty is part of the first group of residents at the hospital located in Toms River, New Jersey.

“Being part of the first residency class is very exciting because I know we’re making history at CMC. From my first interview, CMC felt like family and that was something that I could not compromise in my decision in choosing a medical residency program,” said Dr. Johnkutty. “I knew that residency can be the toughest time of a physician’s career and I needed to set myself up for success by surrounding myself with like-minded and passionate Emergency Medicine leaders. I found that with CMC along with a strong female leadership presence. I know it will be challenging being the first class, but I know that with the support of not just CMC, but the RWJBarnabas Health network, that myself and my fellow residents will succeed.”

On July 7th, Community Medical Center held a long coat ceremony for the new graduate medical education residents, including residents in the internal medicine program (pictured).

On July 7th, CMC held a long coat ceremony to welcome the residency class. At the ceremony, the residents received new long coats, which symbolizes they are no longer medical students and serves a significant milestone in their medical career.

Next summer, CMC will introduce its surgical residency program, expanding the program. Additionally, CMC also houses residency and education programs in nursing, pharmacy, social work, nutrition, rehabilitation and radiology.

To learn more about residency programs at Community Medical Center, please visit https://www.rwjbh.org/for-healthcare-professionals/medical-education/community-medical-center/