By Dr. Philip Pumerantz

Our nation is facing a national shortage of health professionals, an insufficient diversity in its work force, a growing number of people without health care insurance (6.5 million in California and 47 million nationally), and 40 million nationwide with some form of disability.

These numbers will grow significantly in the years ahead as the baby boomers enter late life, when the risks of illnesses and disabilities are at their highest. As a nationally renowned health professions institution, Western University of Health Sciences considers this an important frontier. We have accepted this unique opportunity to respond positively and creatively to the need.

There is no shortage of individuals who wish to pursue health-care careers, but in order to respond to this, we must not just add new students to existing programs and bring on new disciplines. We must increase the work force in a unique way that reflects our university’s philosophy of caring and compassion and scientific excellence. This means that we need to attract students whose No. 1 mission is to serve people.

As the university grows and expands, the campus environment is poised to take on four new programs by 2009: dentistry, podiatry, optometry and biomedical sciences. This is unprecedented in higher education.

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