Vinayak Shenoy, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology, gives a lecture to students in the lab at CHSU in Clovis. Classes for the next academic year began Monday. Photo by Donald A. Promnitz

published on August 30, 2018 - 2:14 PM
Written by Donald A. Promnitz

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated that the California Health Sciences University College of Pharmacy was accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

California Health Sciences University (CHSU) in Clovis has taken a major step forward with its accreditation by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

The university’s accreditation became official earlier this month, with the letter of notification going out on July 20. This step also means that students at CHSU are now qualified to apply for federal student loans.

The accreditation process for the university is multi-layered. In addition to the university’s WSCUC initial accreditation, which lasts a period of six years, its College of Pharmacy and proposed College of Osteopathic Medicine also require separate accreditations.

Last month, the university learned that the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) continued its “candidate” status for the College of Pharmacy, with ACPE officials set to visit the university next spring to consider advancing the program toward full accreditation.

“I couldn’t just look at what Fresno State does and mimic everything they do and actually get accredited,” said School of Pharmacy Dean Wendy Duncan. “Our accreditation has to be completely in line with our mission, so we really had to be unique in that process.”

That mission, Duncan asserted, was to bring new doctors into the Central Valley’s depleted medical workforce. According to university statistics, 60 percent of the 257 students currently in the Doctor of Pharmacy class have roots in the Central Valley. Of these, 80 students are from Fresno State and ten are from Fresno Pacific. Studies have shown that doctors are more likely to work in their home areas and where their residencies take place.

“We’re going to make sure all of our students have significant rotations in Federally Qualified Health Centers, because I think the belief is that when they serve those communities, they’ll fall in love with them and they’ll want to come and stay in those communities,” Duncan said.

CHSU President Flo Dunn compared the milestone to growing up for their university.

“I think the fact that we actually worked really hard, and to have an accredited university becoming a really strong entity in the short time since we started is a testament — number one — to the Board of Trustees leadership,” Dunn said. “But also, we can now confidently go out and expand other colleges.”

These other institutions include their proposed College of Osteopathic Medicine. Ground was broken on the facility in May and CHSU leadership hopes that it will matriculate its first class by 2020. This could mean an increased supply of primary care physicians, which are lacking in the Central Valley.

CHSU officials are also looking into a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) program in the coming years, as there is also a shortage of mental health specialists in the area.

Classes began for the new semester last week.

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