University of the Pacific working to meet the growing demands of health care

Nicoleta Bugnariu

Nicoleta Bugnariu is the founding dean of the School of Health Sciences and started at her post on June 1.

University of the Pacific’s new School of Health Sciences is building on the university’s longstanding place as an education leader training future health care professionals to meet the demands of a growing health care industry. Pacific has trained health care professionals since 1858 when the university formed the first medical school in California, now the Stanford University School of Medicine.

California’s health workforce faces major shortages. Health care jobs are expected to grow by 14% from 2018 to 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, outpacing all other employment sectors. The future graduates of the School of Health sciences will in part help California meet these demands for more health care workers.

The School of Health Sciences is the newest school Pacific has opened since the School of International Studies in 1987.

“The formation of a School of Health Sciences affords Pacific with new opportunities for our students to prepare them to lead and positively shape the future of health professions," said Nicoleta Bugnariu, the founding dean of the School of Health Sciences who started her post on June 1. “More importantly, this new school increases our ability to contribute to improved health and wellness across Northern California where the health care field is in constant need of highly skilled professionals.”

The School of Health Sciences offers master’s programs in clinical nutrition and social work that will begin in fall 2020, and a doctor of occupational therapy program that will begin in spring 2021. These programs will join existing popular programs in athletic training, audiology, physical therapy, physician assistant studies and speech-language pathology, all offered in an accelerated format, shortening the time to degree.  

Housed at Pacific’s Sacramento Campus, construction is currently being done in the Muddox Building to add more classrooms, conference rooms, clinic rooms, a teaching kitchen and student lounge areas. The goal of these improvements are to welcome and accommodate the new programs and students that will be joining the campus.

The School of Health Sciences includes programs at the university’s three campuses, including those in San Francisco and Stockton. The School of Health Sciences has innovative curricula that leverage the university’s opportunities in interprofessional education. Students from the School of Health Sciences, Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry will learn with and from each other, preparing them for clinical settings where integrated teams provide optimal patient care.

“I am delighted that we have students from various health care programs take classes together so that they are immersed in the culture of interprofessional medicine that is practiced today,” said Rae Matsumoto, incoming dean of Pacific’s Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy. “We’re preparing our students to be better health care leaders by providing a well-rounded wellness education.”

To learn more about Pacific’s new School of Health Science, join the virtual open house on Wednesday, June 17 for both graduate and undergraduate health programs. There will be discussions with faculty, details about the application and admission timeline, and further advice on careers in health science.