Valley Works: Pharmacy College in the making

February 12, 2013 12:08:32 AM PST
According to National Labor Statistics, pharmacist jobs are expected to grow by 25 percent over the next 10 years.

The demand is greater in the Central Valley, where there is a huge need.

The challenge for this region: how to attract those medical professionals to our area.

One solution is to establish a pharmacy college right here in the Central Valley.

The business leaders behind the project believe it could be a game changer for the region.

In this biochemistry lab at Fresno State University you will find some of the Valley's best and brightest students.

Most of them are chemistry majors with their eye on pharmacy school.

"There is a strong interest in pharmacy. Many of our chemistry majors are hoping to apply to and gain entry into pharmacy school," Dr. Joy Goto said.

Eslie Gutierrez, 21, is going through that process now. He was thrilled to learn he'd snagged an interview at the University of California San Francisco. Gutierrez knows competition to get in is fierce and believes students like him would have more opportunities if there was a pharmacy school in the Valley.

"It would help a lot because there are only seven or eight pharmacy schools in California and it's competitive to get in and we need pharmacist in the valley," Gutierrez said.

The shortage of pharmacist and other medical professionals is a huge problem in the Central Valley and now a group of business leaders headed by the Assemi family, owners of Granville homes are doing something about it.

"Whoever started those great schools around our country it started with somebody's dream," Farid Assemi said.

The dream is now called the California Health Sciences University. Its initial home is an empty building located near Herndon and Clovis Avenue and construction crews are getting it ready to house the pharmacy school.

Dr. David Hawkins who helped established a pharmacy college in Sacramento has been hired as the school's Founding Dean. Hawkins says the Assemi family's passion for the project attracted him to the job.

Hawkins stated, "They felt like if they could start a health sciences university that ultimately they could improve the economy and also improve health care."

"And gosh if we can have something like one of those institutions near Fresno and get our students to go there, students from all over the state, the country what a game changer for us," Assemi explained.

Farid Assemi says his family and the other business leaders who are stepping up are aware of the monumental task ahead of them. They know it won't be easy but feel the Valley and its students are worth the investment.

"I think it will be a great thing for the Valley and will be a great thing for students. They get a chance to go to a facility this is close to home and hopefully God willing they will stay around. We really need them here."

The Health Sciences University is going through the accreditation process now. That could take almost a year.

The goal is to open in Fall of 2014 with 60 to 80 students.


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