A new bill introduced in the California Legislature last week by Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula calls for the authorization of a new medical school at California State University, Fresno. Arambula, who is a former emergency room physician from Fresno County, says training more doctors locally is one way to help solve the valley's chronic physician shortage.
As he explained in an interview on FM89's Valley Edition the plan faces several hurdles. California's Master Plan for higher education typically reserves terminal degrees such as Ph.D's and M.D.s for schools in the UC system. However Arambula says the state has made exceptions when then is a local need, and Fresno State currently offers doctorate level degrees in nursing, educational leadership and kinesiology.
While Arambula's bill would authorize a new medical school it doesn't provide the funding to make it happen. He says the effort required would be similar to the one that brought a new medical school to UC Riverside, which took around a decade and cost around $100 million, according to Arambula.
It's unclear how Arambula's bill will be received by those in the education world. Both Fresno State and the CSU Chancellor's office declined to comment on the legislation, and Fresno State President Joseph Castro didn't mention the idea last week when he delivered a speech about his long-term vision for the campus. Arambula says he has spoken with Castro about the idea. He also says the project would complement and not compete with existing medical residency programs at UCSF-Fresno and another program that is run by Stanford. As to the possibility of situating the medical school at UC Merced, Arambula says he considered the idea, but feels the campus is more focused on expanding its enrollment to 10,000 students by the year 2020, thus making Fresno State a better fit.