Energized. Inspired. Committed. Focused.

As I enter my fourth year as dean for the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis, I feel the energy many of you do in this post-pandemic world. Blockbuster movies are back in theaters. In-person summer classes are in full swing. And 135 School of Nursing graduates entered the world of health care as change agents driven to make a difference in patients’ and families’ lives.

During our commencement ceremony last month, I was inspired by the tenacity and perseverance our graduates demonstrated in the completion of their programs. The past two years of COVID-19 and the past two months of legal decisions that affect health care underscore the need of those who believe there is a better way to care for the communities we serve. With their newfound abilities, confidence and vision, we are proud to call these future health care leaders our alumni.

A foundational milestone

As a school, we also celebrated a major milestone in our journey — the culmination of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation grant that launched the school. The School of Nursing was established in March 2009 through a $100 million commitment from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. A final report to foundation trustees presented a wonderful opportunity to conduct an in-depth review of the school’s progress.

It was an illuminating exercise to better understand the vision for the school’s future by looking back at the efforts and achievements since inception.

That future is guided by our Strategic Plan, launched less than a year ago. I’m proud of the team who works hard every day to make all six pillars of this plan a reality. We’ve already made strides on key elements we set out to achieve. Committed to grow our research program, we aligned and strengthened our research administration team. In addition, we are adding tenure-track faculty to our ranks to deepen our contributions to health equity and social justice, healthy aging and family caregiving, and technology-enabled solutions to health and health care.

Our goal to prepare exceptional professionals to become the next generation of leaders in health care is at the heart of our newest degree program. Last month, the inaugural class of the Doctor of Nursing Practice — Family Nurse Practitioner Degree Program began their three years of graduate study. This hybrid program prepares advanced practice providers to engage in patient- and family-centered, evidence-based primary care.

We’re even investing in the pipeline of future nurses. In July, we hosted 38 students from underrepresented Sacramento high schools to our inaugural Summer Health Institute for Nursing Exploration and Success (SHINES) program. Their coursework consisted of hands-on simulations, developing a deeper understanding of the nursing practice and the social determinants of health, as well as resume writing and personal branding workshops. Thanks to generous volunteers, including many School of Nursing alumni, we set a high benchmark for other pathway programs that hold the promise of diversifying our workforce and advancing health equity.

An indispensable partner

We have not achieved all we have by going it alone. From our very foundation, we’ve focused on long-term success and sustainability together with our partners. Our work with the UC Davis School of Medicine and our other UC Davis Health colleagues is paramount to advancing health in our community.

The contributions of our alumni — now more than 900 strong — are critical to having the lasting impact first envisioned by our founders. Our contributions to the education of future providers and access for our patients are indispensable in achieving the system’s vision of “tomorrow’s health care today.”