The first University of its kind in Fresno County, California Health Sciences University (CHSU) welcomed its inaugural College of Pharmacy class in August 2014. CHSU College of Pharmacy is a four-year pharmacy school that provides a Doctor of Pharmacy degree program for students living in the Central Valley, California and throughout the nation.
About California Health Sciences University (CHSU)
California Health Sciences University was founded in 2012 and is the first university of its kind in the Central Valley. Envisioned by the Assemi family, CHSU offers a local option for students and health care professionals seeking doctoral and post-graduate programs and to help remedy the shortage of health care services offered in the Valley. Students can enjoy the unique combination of high quality of life, affordable cost of living, and plentiful career opportunities the Valley provides. The College of Pharmacy was the first program offered because of the high demand for pharmacists in the region. CHSU plans to open up to 10 post-graduate colleges to train health care professionals in the coming years and is considering Allied Health, Podiatry, and a Medical school. The timing and specific discipline for each new school will be determined based on the need and opportunity for job placement within the region.
In November 2016, California Health Sciences University announced plans to open a College of Osteopathic Medicine with the first class starting in fall 2019. The proposed CHSU College of Osteopathic Medicine will be the first of its kind in the San Joaquin Valley. The university has been granted applicant status from the American Osteopathic Association Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA), the only accrediting agency for predoctoral osteopathic medical education recognized by the United States Department of Education.
“Ever since we founded CHSU in 2012, we’ve been actively planning to open a medical school,” stated Florence Dunn, CHSU president. “With the rapid growth of our population and increasing disparity in health care access – and coupled with the success of our pharmacy program – we’ve decided to make the medical school an immediate priority. The Central Valley suffers from some of the most severe physician shortages in California and we are dedicated to improving the health and lives of the people of our community.”
University officials are formalizing plans now to assemble the osteopathic medical school’s leadership team, including a board of trustees and founding dean.
Since fall 2014, CHSU has been holding classes for its College of Pharmacy students at its interim campus at 120 N. Clovis Avenue, near the southwest corner of Clovis and Herndon Avenues. The 32,000 s.f. building on CHSU’s interim campus includes, two large classrooms; library; student lounge; faculty and staff offices; and pharmacy practice, compounding, and research labs. The interim campus was expanded in summer 2016, with a new, 17,000 s.f. building that includes a third large classroom, several smaller classrooms for electives, student lounge, faculty offices, and a variety of flexible study spaces. A third new 9,000 s.f. building is currently under construction and will serve to launch the new College of Osteopathic Medicine program that’s under development until the permanent campus is complete.
Since the initial site for CHSU can only accommodate the College of Pharmacy and not a full-scale health sciences university with multiple colleges, planning for a permanent campus at the Clovis Research and Technology Park is underway. Located on four parcels of land totaling 60 acres near Temperance Avenue and Highway 168, just north of Clovis Community Medical Center, the site will provide plenty of space for decades of expansion. The design and architecture for up to 10 colleges in CHSU’s master campus plan, starting with the Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine and Pharmacy, have been in the works since 2013. The campus will include student housing, labs, classrooms, a student center, a library, and an auditorium, along with support buildings. The campus will ultimately approach 2,000 students and nearly 300 faculty and staff.
With construction planned to start in 2018, the university hopes to have the first building at the new campus completed in fall 2019. Development of the new campus will occur in multiple phases as each new health science related college is established. The entire development and construction process for CHSU will likely take up to 20 years.
The Founding President of CHSU, Florence Dunn, is a long-time Valley resident and a former Bank Executive who has assembled a stellar Board of Trustees from varying health care, education and business backgrounds. Long-time educator and community leader, Dr. John D. Welty, President Emeritus at Fresno State, serves as the Board Chair and has helped to fast track the university.
“The new University has received tremendous community support, collaborating with key state and local leaders, including top educational and healthcare executives,” states President Dunn. “CHSU is proud to collaborate with Fresno State, Fresno Pacific University, Clovis Community College and other universities in Central California for interdisciplinary research and interprofessional education. CHSU has also partnered with Central California hospitals, like Community Medical Centers, Kaiser Permanente, Saint Agnes Medical Centerl, Kern County Hospital to name a few and physician groups such as Santé Community Physicians and other group facilities, independent medical doctors and pharmacists.”
The university will also serve as a means of securing the Valley’s healthcare system by recruiting local talent and working to retain graduates here in the Valley.
About CHSU College of Pharmacy
The College of Pharmacy was selected as the first school to open based on a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic that estimates the employment of pharmacists will increase by 14% over the next 10 years. While this national figure shows this employment rate increase is the same for all other occupations, it’s important to note that we have one of the greatest need for pharmacists in the Central Valley.
Wendy Duncan, PhD serves as Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Provost and Interim Dean of Pharmacy at California Health Sciences University. Duncan comes to CHSU from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, where she served as Dean in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and Professor. She also previously served as Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dean of Pharmacy, and Professor at St. Louis College of Pharmacy.
“Our curriculum demands much of our students. Graduates will be expected to do whatever it takes to integrate our fragmented healthcare system and expand their core competencies to ensure cost-effective, patient-centered care. Our curriculum has been designed to provide the necessary challenges and experiences to make this expectation a reality. Our student support systems have been carefully designed to foster professional development and intellectual growth so that our graduates – every one of them – are equipped to master the trials and tribulations that such professional leadership entails,” states Dr. Duncan.
At CHSU, you will learn contemporary pharmacy practice and how to provide primary patient care in collaboration with physicians. This is what separates us from other pharmacy schools in California. You will refine your clinical skills under direct supervision of practicing pharmacists and physicians during rotations at hospitals, clinics and community pharmacies. Our innovative team-based learning curriculum includes:
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“We believe that EVERYONE can succeed, given sufficient personal effort, “ said Dr. Duncan. “Yes, you will be challenged here. But we know that you have what it takes to make it.”
With California SB 493 taking effect in 2014, the role of pharmacists on the health care team has been elevated with the creation of the Advanced Practice Pharmacist (APP) designation, allowing APP’s in California to provide primary care in collaboration with physicians. CHSU College of Pharmacy graduating pharmacists can help pave the way for the newly developing opportunities in the Central California health care system.
“I invite you to join me and embark upon a journey of discovery and personal growth, while challenging the status quo as we work to advance the field of pharmacy. You will enjoy being engaged by cutting edge pedagogy and provided with ample opportunities to participate in impactful community service projects, exciting research, and progressive healthcare practice,” stated Dr. Duncan.