Ruth Shim named in Sacramento Bee’s ‘Top 20 Black Change Makers’


The Sacramento Bee has named Ruth Shim one of the “Top 20 Black Change Makers.”

Shim is a professor of clinical psychiatry and associate dean of diverse and inclusive education at UC Davis School of Medicine.

UC Davis Chancellor Gary S. May nominated Shim. “Shim has devoted her career to addressing structural barriers to health equity and health outcomes, especially for patients in traditionally underserved communities,” May said.

A woman wearing a dark blue dress standing outside
Ruth Shim is a professor of clinical psychiatry and associate dean of diverse and inclusive education at UC Davis School of Medicine.

The profiles of all 20 honorees are available online.

In her acceptance video, Shim says that she’s inspired by the students at the UC Davis School of Medicine.

“We have one of the most diverse medical schools in the country. Because we have students who come from all sorts of backgrounds, they have a desire to improve medicine to make things better in their communities. Because they have such drive and passion, it inspires me to bring all of my drive and passion to the work that I do,” Shim said.

Shim became interested in mental health at a young age. She noticed the health disparities between Black and white people when she was a student at Emory University. It inspired her to become a psychiatrist and address mental health disparities and inequities. 

Shim earned a Master of Public Health degree, specializing in health policy from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and an M.D. from Emory University School of Medicine. She joined the UC Davis faculty in 2017.

“Dr. Shim’s leadership of the department’s Diversity Advisory Committee has been seminal in creating the holistic review process for our residency program — the members of which will form the psychiatric workforce for California, addressing the mental health crisis in our region and our State,” said Helen C. Kales, the Joe P. Tupin Endowed Professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

Shim is also the Luke and Grace Kim Endowed Professor of Cultural Psychiatry, which informs her thinking about mental health care in our communities.

“I am always considering the role culture plays in mental health and psychiatry and how these things show up in our communities,” Shim said.

She hopes to improve the quality and access of mental health services for communities that are oppressed and marginalized. Shim is working to address policies at the local, state and national levels to combine equity and justice in U.S. medical schools.