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Health & Medicine

University of the Pacific college will launch school for health sciences in Sacramento

The University of the Pacific is launching a school of health sciences in 2020 on the same Sacramento campus that houses its law school, saying that four new programs are needed to meet the demands of a growing health care industry.

“Retiring baby boomers have increased health care needs, resulting in a demand for more health care professionals,” said Maria Pallavicini, Pacific’s interim president. “These new programs include hybrid and online learning and were developed after extensive conversations with our community partners and others in health care. They identified a need for nurses, social workers, clinical nutritionists and occupational therapists, and we are set to prepare health care leaders for generations to come.”

The Stockton-based university will be offering master’s degree programs in nursing, clinical nutrition and social work by fall 2020 and will add a doctorate degree program in occupational therapy by spring 2021. UOP leaders are conducting a national search for a dean of the school.

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The school cited data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics showing that the number of health care jobs in the U.S. is expected to grow by 14 percent from 2018 to 2028. Other educational programs in Northern California simply cannot meet that demand, UOP leaders stated in a news release.

In February, UOP’s Center for Business and Policy Research projected that the state would add 20,000 health care jobs in the subsequent 12 months alone, spokesperson Keith Michaud said.

“The School of Health Sciences really expands the opportunities for learning experiences that replicate what our graduates will see in their careers,” said Michael Hunter Schwartz, the university’s interim provost. “This builds upon existing practices in which students from various health care programs take classes together so that they are immersed in the culture of interprofessional medicine that is practiced today. We’re preparing our students to be health care leaders by providing lifelong wellness throughout our communities.”

Leaders of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at the University of California, Davis, welcomed UOP’s new program to the region.

“As a provider of five, interprofessional master’s and doctoral degree nursing programs, UC Davis graduates have benefitted from rigorous scholarship coupled with the strength in research and access to UC Davis Health’s world-class medical center,” said Stephen Cavanagh, dean of UCD’s Moore nursing school. “We recognize that high-quality programs are needed to prepare more people to serve in the nursing profession and meet the growing needs of California.”

The expansion of UOP’s Sacramento campus, based in Oak Park, will be another coup for a neighborhood experiencing an economic and development renaissance. The campus includes the university’s well-respected McGeorge School of Law. The new degree programs, along with a master’s degree program in physician assistant studies, will be based in the Maddox Building.

Pacific began training health care professionals in 1858 when the university created California’s first medical school, now the Stanford University School of Medicine. The school also runs the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco.

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