Pharmacy jobs expected to increase

FRESNO, Calif.

In a bio-chemistry 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.

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

21-year-old Eslie Gutierrez is going through that process now as 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.

Gutierrez said, "It would help a lot because there are only 7 or 8 pharmacy schools in California and it's competitive to get in and we need pharmacist in the Valley."

The shortage of pharmacists 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.

The dream is now called the California Health Sciences University. Its initial home is an empty building located near Herndon and Clovis Avenues 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 schools founding dean. Hawkins says the Assemi family's passion for the project attracted him to the job.

Dean of Pharmacy David Hawkins said, "They felt like if they could start a health sciences university that ultimately they could improve the economy and also improve health care."

Assemi said, "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 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, 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," Assemi said.

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