Rising Nurse Leaders (RNL) is a two-year part-time program designed to provide aspiring and current frontline administrative nurses with opportunities to acquire essential knowledge, skills, and abilities for ongoing leadership and professional development. The ultimate program goal is for participants to become effective administrative leaders and shape the future of nursing at UC Davis Health.

Program objectives

Upon completion of the program, the RNL participants will:

  • Develop a leadership style consistent with individual strengths and goals
  • Integrate planning, mentorship, and experiential learning experiences into ongoing professional and leadership development
  • Increase awareness of current professional, practice, and organizational issues relevant to nurse leaders
  • Demonstrate leadership through the facilitation of a change process integrating concepts on best practices, quality/performance improvement methodologies, and project management

Program activities

Program participants will engage in learning activities such as seminars, discussion forums, mentorship, coaching, and group activities. The program utilizes various instructive and interactive methods to enhance learning and skill development. During the program, the participants will engage actively in completing an individualized professional development plan, leadership portfolio, and project. An overview of components are as follows:

The quarterly leadership seminars consist of eight core educational offerings, aligned to leadership competencies, to provide participants with an opportunity to apply leadership concepts, problem-solving, reflection, and skill development.

Monthly leadership forums are co-facilitated by a coach and/or a nurse leader. The sessions provide the participants a venue to discuss specific leadership topics/issues and learn applicable leadership strategies.

Participants will be paired with a nursing mentor that complements the individual’s career and learning goals. As part of the formalized mentorship, participants will work with mentors to identify development opportunities to attain goals. Mentors volunteer to support RNL nurses in their professional development and will also be offered their own development opportunities.

Each participant has access to individual professional leadership coaching offered at no cost by HR Training and Development. Information can be found here: Career Coaching.

The participants will partner with mentors to acquire and demonstrate leadership skills by completing a project that support institutional goals and priority areas.

While the seminars are designed to build core competencies in leadership, participants may take additional elective courses based on their individual needs. These elective course offerings are open to all UC Davis nursing staff.


The Rising Nurse Leaders program is open to nurses that meet the following qualifications:

  • Current or aspiring administrative nurse.
  • UC Davis Health career nursing employee with at least two years of service.
  • Demonstration of professional leadership qualities, including but not limited to serving as a committee chair, Unit-Based Practice Council or professional governance committee member, unit or hospital-wide project champion, relief charge nurse, professional organization member, etc.
  • Commitment to program activities.
  • Motivation and willingness to contribute to improving the quality of care and services at UC Davis Health.


Participants agree to actively engage in all aspects of this 24-month program, specifically:

  • Secure supervisor’s approval for planned leave to attend program activities.
  • Actively participate in all program activities, including attending quarterly seminars and a minimum of 8 Leadership Forums a year during the program.
  • Develop and implement an individualized professional plan.
  • Meet regularly with identified mentor.
  • Develop a professional portfolio that will provide evidence of leadership growth and competency.
  • Participate in a leadership project that support institutional goals or priority areas.
  • Participate in program evaluation and consider participating in research studies if requested.
  • Complete all the program requirements within 24 months.


UC Davis Medical Center Patient Care Services sponsorships of participants cover most of the program cost, which includes educational materials, seminars, and other learning experiences. Participants may use available professional leave with the approval of their manager for program activities.

Application procedures

Thank you for your interest in the Rising Nurse Leaders Program. Applications for the 2024-2026 Cohort 11 are now available at the link below. Priority applications are due by Nov 30, 2023. Applications received after Nov 30, 2023, will be reviewed on a space-available basis only. Completed applications include two professional references. Final decisions and acceptance letters will be emailed on or before Dec 31, 2023. The program will start March 28, 2024.

Open application dates

Cohort 11: Applications open November 1, 2023, to November 30, 2023

Part I: Applicant

The online application cannot be saved incomplete, it must be completed in one single session. Before you access the online application form, prepare or draft the following:

  1. Statement of purpose: Describe professional background, professional goals, leadership experience or how you have demonstrated leadership, evidence of committee or project work, and how this program will support your goals (minimum of 100 words and maximum of 1,000 words).

Once you are ready with your application, access the link below. Answer all the questions and cut and paste your statement of purpose in the space provided.

Part II: Professional Reference

  • You will need 2 professional references; one must be from your manager or direct supervisor.
  • Additional professional references should come from a supervisor or colleague that knows you well and can speak to your work and leadership potential. Please give your references as much advanced notice as possible and follow up with them to ensure completion before the deadline.
  • Share the link to this website to your professional references.

The online professional reference form cannot be saved between sessions; it must be completed in one single session. Before you access the form, draft your answer to the following question: Give 3 reasons why this applicant should be selected or considered for the Rising Nurse Leaders Program. Once you are ready, access the link below. Answer few leadership trait survey questions and cut and paste your answer in the space provided.

Program coordinators

Misty Cahoon, M.S.N., R.N., N.P.D.-B.C.
Professional Development Specialist

Sandy Phan, D.N.P., R.N., N.P.D.A.-B.C., C.R.R.N., E.B.P.-C.
Professional Development Specialist


For questions about the Rising Nurse Leaders program, please contact the program coordinators by e-mail at mdcahoon@ucdavis.edu and sanphan@ucdavis.edu.