live with their two children in Sparta
Township, a half-hour’s commute to
the practice and to Newton Memorial,
where Cioce is director of the low-risk
cath lab. Two days a week, he works out
of Morristown Medical Center, roughly
the same commuting distance. “We took
a little leap of faith, and it’s worked out
Who’ll Fix Our
Beginning in 2011, the second year of her
family-medicine residency at CentraState Healthcare System in Freehold,
Dr. Sara Leonard began receiving job
solicitations from all over the country.
The outreach intensified at the start of
her third and final year, at which point
she was getting “five to six calls a day,
15 to 20 e-mails and glossy brochures
from everywhere.” But apart from her
own hospital and the occasional flyer
listing available positions, usually in the
southern counties, almost no solicitations came from New Jersey.
The seeming indifference puzzled
Leonard, a New Jersey native committed to remaining in her home state, who
knew about its acute doctor shortages.
In the end, she was happy to accept
a position at a practice affiliated with
CentraState, where she had been a chief
resident. “If not for the hospital system
I’m in, I don’t think I’d be in the state
right now,” says Leonard. “New Jersey
almost lost me, and I’m one of its own.”
Juan Soto, who handles the New
Jersey and New York market for the
national physician recruitment firm
Merritt Hawkins, hears this sentiment a
lot. “Among those on the hiring end,”
he says, “the assumption seems to be,
if doctors have trained here, we don’t
need to go after them—they will come
But hospitals and health systems
can’t bear all the burden of assuring that
New Jersey trains and retains the doc-
tors it needs.
Medical schools and residency
programs also need to step up their
game, experts say, especially in the area
With the support
Dr. Robert Lukenda, a family
able to launch his
own private practice in Cranford.
He even makes
trend, experts say (see story, this page).
“The deeper we get into this workforce crisis, the more difficult it will be to fix,” warns Ray Saputelli, executive vice president of the New Jersey Academy of Family Physicians.
LUCKILY FOR RESIDENTS of Sussex County, Gerald Cioce decided to fight the tide. He is enough of a Jersey guy to know that
even the rural parts of the state are not that far from New York
City or Philadelphia—to say nothing of Jersey’s own population
centers. He also determined that he would rather face an uncertain situation in Newton than end up being “another cog in
the wheel” at an established interventional program elsewhere.
In the end, Cioce and his fiancée—the couple married in July 2009, shortly after he completed his fellowship—decided he
should accept the offer from Cardiology Associates. Today, they