Based on Rider connections, two careers in medicine converge

Robert Raggi '17 finds a benefactor in Dr. Joseph Scalia '92

Joseph Scalia '92 knew by his sophomore year at Rider that he wanted a career in medicine. The chance to shadow physicians at Helen Fuld Hospital in Trenton as an undergraduate confirmed his intuition.

Twenty-five years later, Dr. Scalia is the physician being shadowed by a Rider biology major. Robert Raggi ’17 has been receiving first-hand lessons on 21st-century healthcare and the future of medicine from Dr. Scalia — part of his post-graduate work as he prepares to apply to medical school.

The two were introduced by Dr. Jonathan Yavelow, a biology professor who taught both Raggi and Dr. Scalia.

"Joe has been so successful with his career and has a generosity and openness to him that I knew would be a great experience for Robert," says Yavelow. "Little did I know Joe’s practice is at the forefront of medical practices in terms of pioneering new delivery systems based on population health and outcomes.”

Dr. Scalia's  practice, Raritan Family Healthcare, has two office locations comprised of four family physicians and one OBGYN and serves 12,000 patients from newborns to geriatrics. Scalia credits Rider’s small class size and the access to hands-on research with faculty as giving him the experience and confidence for medical school.

“I owe my career to Rider," he says. "It was the making of me. I learned the critical thinking skills that have allowed me to anticipate changes in healthcare delivery and guide my practice through the challenges and realities of 21st-century healthcare practices.”

Scalia’s practice, which he co-owns with his wife, Dr. Lisa Jordan-Scalia, is participating in a national comprehensive primary care initiative that uses the concept of population health and employs big data to create patient profiles to medical practitioners to anticipate certain health trends and treat the whole person with preventative care that focuses on healthy lifestyles and healthy choices.

“It’s the future of healthcare,” Dr. Scalia says. “It provides better outcomes with lower costs, and that’s what every patient wants.”

Dr. Scalia was just beginning his study when Raggi, who had served as the president of the Rider Chapter of Tri-Beta, the national biology honors society, first inquired about working with him. “I needed a smart, critical thinker to help collate and analyze the data," he says. "Robert’s been invaluable to this project."

The experience has exceeded Raggi's expectations, and he's quick to credit Rider for enabling his success. “I never imagined I’d get in on the ground floor in a research project as existing as this one," he says. “I owe everything to Rider. My education was top-rate and the faculty have always been so eager to help me.”