By: Follow South Jersey Staff
DEPTFORD TOWNSHIP, N.J. — State and county representatives along with Rowan College of South Jersey (RCSJ) Board members and Inspira leaders gathered at RCSJ’s Gloucester Campus for a ribbon cutting ceremony for the newly completed Inspira Health Sciences Center on May 1.
The two-story 27,390 sq. ft. Inspira Health Sciences Center will be home to the new Respiratory Therapy program, RCSJ’s current Exercise Science program, and the future Medical Technician and Surgical Technician programs.
All the new Health Sciences Center labs were designed with Inspira Health guidance. They deconstructed a Mullica Hill operating room lab so they could rebuild a surgical lab at RCSJ. Counter heights and stool heights are specific to the type of work students will be hired to do as a medical technician, such as microscope versus seated specimen work. The respiratory therapy lab space may look roomy, but it’s properly spaced to accommodate all the necessary equipment for student training including real oxygen. “Our Respiratory therapist colleagues from Inspira were critical to the design of the teaching and learning space. The clinical experts defined the space needed for equipment and hands on instruction. On the second floor, the learning space for the clinical Medical Technician and Surgical Technician programs were created with input from our colleagues at Inspira,” said Dr. Susan Hall, Dean of Nursing and Health Professions at RCSJ.
The Respiratory Therapy Program (RTP) is the first program to emerge from research and development of this premier partnership. Thirty seats will be available for the Fall 2023 RTP cohort. All four years of the program will be taught in the Inspira Health Sciences Center. Next up will be a Medical Technician Program and then Surgical Technician.
“As president of RCSJ, my focus is connecting education with industry,” Frederick Keating, RCSJ president, said. “Over the past several years, I’ve talked with industry leaders asking, ‘What credentials does your current workforce need? Who will you need to hire — and with what skills — for future growth?’ That’s how RCSJ’s premier partnership with Inspira was born — collaborating to educate and employ the South Jersey community.”
The Respiratory Therapy Program is an exciting new degree opportunity offered at Rowan University, in partnership with RCSJ and Rowan-Virtua School of Osteopathic Medicine. Respiratory Therapy is a 2+2 program, meaning the first two years of study are provided through RCSJ faculty, and the last two years through Rowan University faculty, all on the RCSJ-Gloucester Campus.
As a Health Science, Respiratory Therapy pathway major at RCSJ Gloucester, students will take courses to prepare an application to the Bachelor of Science Respiratory Therapy (BSRT) Entry to Practice Track. The BSRT program at Rowan University holds provisional accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC). “The Inspira Health Sciences Center is an ideal location for our respiratory therapy program, creating opportunities to learn side-by-side with allied health students in the many programs offered by RCSJ and with our medical students at the Rowan-Virtua School of Osteopathic Medicine. The 2+2 structure of the program promotes access and affordability and will produce highly skilled respiratory therapists to meet urgent demand in the healthcare workforce in our region,” Rowan University President Ali A. Houshmand said.
RCSJ’s current Exercise Science program is a “3+1” with Rowan University, which concludes with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fitness Management, allowing graduates to pursue careers as a personal trainer, strength and conditioning coach, athletic director, sports facility or health club manager, physical education teacher, or wellness director. This will be the first time that RCSJ Exercise Science faculty will be able to offer students a lab day and a class day at the same time due to having adequate space to fit all the equipment along with the students. Exercise Science majors will also have access to SMART technology during their training. April 22, 2023, marked the one-year anniversary of the Inspira Health premier parwith RCSJ. To date, 193 Inspira employees have taken advantage of furthering their education at RCSJ through this partnership receiving a 50% tuition and fee discount. For Inspira employees interested in the 3+1 Nursing program, Inspira will pay for their last year of education at Rowan University “in full.” “Rarely does an opportunity present itself that has a win for all of us. The Premier Partnership between RCSJ and Inspira provides a great example of what can be accomplished when entities work together to creatively solve problems. We are grateful for Dr. Fred Keating, and the team at Rowan College of South Jersey, for your willingness to create programs that meet the very real needs of our community.”
In addition to the employee discount, scholarships are available through 25, $2,000 Inspira Creates Pathways Scholarships that are awarded yearly. The scholarship will be awarded to students enrolled in Nursing and Health Professions degree programs as well as healthcare-related Career Certificate programs at RCSJ with a 3.0 GPA.
Residents of Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem counties are eligible to apply for the Inspira Creates Pathways Scholarship. Five scholarships are designated to Inspira Health Employee dependents, 10 to current and new students who received their high school diploma or equivalent prior to 2023, and 10 to incoming freshmen who received their high school diploma or equivalent in 2023. “I’m proud to have been a part of this vision and humbled to see these partnerships come to fruition and working for South Jersey. Our end goal was to retain local talent and together, we are making it happen,” said Stephen Sweeney, former NJ Senate President.
Offering a selection of associate degrees, credit, and non-credit certifications, more than 30 healthcare programs are available to RCSJ students and Inspira staff looking to advance or upskill their current roles. From Nursing to Nutrition, Physical Therapy to Radiography, and Sonography to Peer Recovery, the College’s relationship with Inspira serves to strengthen the knowledge and experience of RCSJ graduates entering the workforce. “Working towards solving the shortage of healthcare professions in the region, Gloucester County government proudly invested in the new Rowan College of South Jersey/Inspira Health Sciences Center. This new center will graduate a highly qualified workforce in allied health to supply not only Inspira Health but many hospital networks in South Jersey,” stated Frank J. DiMarco, Director of the Gloucester County Board of Commissioners.
For more information about the Inspira Health Sciences Center, the Inspira Health Premier Partnership, RCSJ tuition discounts for Inspira employees, scholarships, or any of our Nursing and Health Profession degree programs, please visit www.RCSJ.edu/Inspira.
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