We have lofty goals at UC Davis Health – because we should. As an academic medical center, we have both the ability and a responsibility to make our community, our state and our world happier and healthier.

We’ve already been working toward that in all our mission areas – clinical care, research and education. In this issue, you will get to know more about the two people leading our education mission: Stephen Cavanagh, Dean of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, and Allison Brashear, Dean of the School of Medicine.

Both have begun working together to develop nation-leading programs teaching team care and building upon our efforts to address health disparities and the health workforce needs of our state. The California Future Health Workforce Commission said by 2030, California will be short 4,100 primary care clinicians, 600,000 homecare workers and one third of the psychiatrists it needs. Currently, 7 million Californians live in Health Professional Shortage Areas, the majority of them Latinx, African American and Native American.

To address those disparities, who we train is vitally important. Our goal is to become a center for diversity and for people from a vast range of backgrounds. Being a great doctor, nurse or care giver requires empathy, the ability to keep learning throughout your career, and an understanding of our patients’ worlds.

Diversity and shared background leads to greater trust from patients and a greater probability they’ll adhere to their prescribed care. The needs in this area are clear. The Workforce Commission said Latinx residents comprise 39% of California’s population but only 7% of the state’s physicians, and it said only 3% of medical students nationwide come from families with incomes in the lowest 20th percentile.

UC Davis Health is doing its part to address the need for a diverse physician workforce. This year, our School of Medicine started off with its most diverse class ever, including 22 African American students, the greatest number in its 50-year history. And 65 percent of the new class qualifies as socioeconomically disadvantaged, also the largest in our history. In addition, for the third straight year, about two-thirds of the class is women, far above the national average.

We also have a number of pipeline programs to recruit and prepare students from underrepresented backgrounds to enter medical professions. Prep Médico, a four-year old partnership with Kaiser Permanente and The Permanente Medical Group, has graduated 175 Latinx students from this summer-long program that mentors and inspires minority applicants seeking a medical career. One student from the first cohort was accepted into Michigan State University’s medical school last year, and others are preparing for the MCATs or applying to medical schools.

By instilling teamwork and the concepts of team-based care into the training of our students in both schools, we’re addressing another future need. We’re training people to practice at the top of their licenses, together, to provide the right care, at the right time, in the right place. It will make us more efficient and make work more rewarding for doctors and nurses – helping to reduce provider burnout. It will help us deliver better care. It will expand access to care. Most of all, it will help our patients.

There is still much work to be done though, as the only academic medical center between San Francisco and Portland. Our goal is to help eliminate disparities in both access and outcomes of medical care across all of Northern California, the Central Valley and right here in the urban core of Sacramento. I’m confident our new deans and all of UC Davis Health will rise to the occasion, because our patients, and because a future that is both healthier and socially just, demand it.