Cramming for exams is a long-standing strategy for students looking to get ahead in their most challenging academic courses.

Now, California Health Sciences University in Clovis is employing a variation of the concept to prepare its potential students for the rigorous admissions process they’ll need to ace to pursue a career as a doctor.

Through CHSU’s pre-med boot camp, potential applicants are gaining insights from faculty members on test-taking and interview skills aimed at improving their chances of admission.


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“The boot camp gives you the opportunity to see what schools are looking for and how to prepare yourself for that.” — Sandy Vonbieberstein pre-med student

Medical School Now Accepting Applications

“We have 30 plus students in the program and they range from sophomore and undergrad to some seniors and recent graduates,” said Dr. Kevin Steed, a member of the CHSU College of Osteopathic Medicine biomedical teaching team.

“We want to improve the students in the Central Valley and improve their chances for medical school,” he said.

CHSU is accepting applications for its inaugural class of 75 students who will enter the school’s Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine program in July 2020.

New Campus Under Construction

In future years, the College of Medicine’s class size will increase to 150 students, bringing the total enrollment to 600 students. CHSU’s new College of Medicine campus is under construction on Alluvial near Temperance Ave. and Highway 168 in Clovis.

Medical school applicants need to demonstrate strong academic performance in their undergraduate studies and receive a competitive score on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). The process also includes a personal interview before recommendations from the school’s admissions committee are made to the dean.

Sandy Vonbieberstein, an undergraduate at Fresno Pacific University who attended the weekend session, spoke highly of the outreach program.

“The bootcamp gives you the opportunity to see what schools are looking for and how to prepare yourself for that,” said Vonbieberstein, a registered dietician. The facilitators “show you how to improve your interview skills and how to make yourself a good candidate for med school.”

Fast-Growing Medical Degree Program

The DO degree that graduates from CHSU’s medical school will receive is fully equivalent to an MD. According to the American Osteopathic Association website, DO programs are growing rapidly with one in four medical students in the United States training to be an osteopathic physician.

“One way in which DOs are distinct from MDs is they receive an additional 200 hours of training in osteopathic manipulative medicine. Through their training, DOs come to understand the body’s musculoskeletal system, an interconnected system of nerves, muscles, and bones.” — American Osteopathic Association website 

“One way in which DOs are distinct from MDs is they receive an additional 200 hours of training in osteopathic manipulative medicine,” the association’s website says. “Through their training, DOs come to understand the body’s musculoskeletal system, an interconnected system of nerves, muscles, and bones.”

While admission to CHSU is open to all, the medical school’s leaders are emphasizing their efforts to recruit students from the Central Valley who will remain in the area to practice healthcare.

Focused on Serving Valley Health Needs

University leaders are also promoting CHSU’s advantages over other programs, including lower tuition and housing costs and the school’s technology-centered simulation center. Learning tools include an augmented reality holographic system, which allows students to explore intricate human anatomy without the need to dissect cadavers.

The new medical school is poised to play an important role in addressing a critical shortage of healthcare professionals in the Central Valley, its leaders believe.

“I’m excited about what the school has to offer,” Steed said.

CHSU’s College of Pharmacy will graduate its third class in May 2020.  A total of 116 students from the first two classes have earned Doctor of Pharmacy degrees.

Disclosure: Privately funded CHSU was founded by the Assemi family of Fresno. GV Wire’s publisher, Darius Assemi, is a member of the CHSU board of trustees.

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