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Despite all the bounty that the Central Valley provides, it’s no secret that the region has long been plagued with a shortage of professional education opportunities, large-scale economic drivers and health care providers, specifically physicians.

In one of the largest and richest states, Central Valley residents have grown accustomed to diminished access to healthcare and being labeled a health provider shortage area, medically underserved area, primary care provider shortage area … the list goes on.

Opinion

Dr. John Welty

By 2030, experts predict we will need 8,800 more physicians to support California. The Central Valley already has the lowest ratio of providers per 100,000 in the state and projections show that by 2035, the population in the Central Valley will increase by 26%, further exacerbating the shortage.

Local Education Leads to Local Practices

Fortunately, change is underway to address the severe shortage of healthcare providers.

Since its founding in 2012, California Health Sciences University (CHSU) in Clovis has made it their mission to improve the healthcare outcomes for people living in the Central Valley by educating our future healthcare providers.

CHSU made history when it opened the first pharmacy school in the Valley in 2014.

CHSU has since demonstrated that educating students locally is the best way to have them practice in the Central Valley. Sixty percent of the pharmacy students are from the Valley and over 70% of the CHSU graduates report they are practicing pharmacists in our community.

Watch: CHSU’s State-of-the-Art Technology

Medical School Poised to Welcome Inaugural Class

California Health Sciences University is set to make history again when its inaugural class of 75 medical students matriculates on July 21, 2020.

California Health Sciences University has demonstrated that educating students locally is the best way to have them practice in the Central Valley.

Within two years, the CHSU medical school will grow to 150 students per class and have 600 students in the program at one time.

It is projected that the economic impact of the medical school alone will contribute $56 million per year to the city of Clovis and the region.

The new, three-story College of Osteopathic Medicine and Simulation Center building on CHSU’s campus at 2500 Alluvial Ave. in Clovis includes state-of-the-art technology and was impressively constructed in only 18 months.

Lead by Dr. John Graneto, Dean at the CHSU College of Osteopathic Medicine, the CHSU medical school now has over 50 full-time faculty and staff to support the first year of medical students — with more to be hired over the next year. All CHSU faculty are scientists or licensed, practicing physicians and most relocated to our region to practice and teach in the new medical school.

The first class of medical students is scheduled to begin studies at California Health Sciences University College of Osteopathic Medicine in July. (California Health Sciences University)

High Percentage of Central Valley Applicants

Applications for 2020 enrollment far exceeded the University’s expectations. A high percentage of qualified, local students applied to the CHSU medical school and extra consideration was given to applicants from the Central Valley.

California Health Sciences University is the brainchild of the Assemi family, who are community-focused and willing to invest in our future healthcare providers. They have taken the lead in providing workable solutions for the Central Valley, and I hope others will follow suit and work collaboratively to ensure the physician and health provider shortage projections don’t become a reality.

(Darius Assemi is the publisher of GV Wire and is a member of CHSU’s Board Advisory Council.)

While serving as president of Fresno State for 22 years, I saw first-hand how local educational opportunities improve lives and transform our community.

Increasing access to postgraduate education, especially for healthcare providers, has been my goal and passion since I came to the Central Valley.

Increasing access to postgraduate education, especially for healthcare providers, has been my goal and passion since I came to the Central Valley.

Fast-Tracking Efforts to Address Needs

It’s gratifying to see California Health Sciences University fast-tracking its growth and trajectory toward becoming a nationally recognized institution and to help remedy this long-standing problem.

I am proud to serve as Board Chair at California Health Sciences University to help advance the mission to bring more healthcare providers to the Valley.

About the Author

John D. Welty is President Emeritus of Fresno State and Chair of the Board of Trustees for California Health Sciences University.

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