This spring signals optimism at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis. As California and the world transition from pandemic to endemic, we focus on our future growth and increase the value our programs, graduates and research bring to local communities and beyond.

Just as Governor Newsom’s SMARTER plan builds on lessons learned over the past two years and the state’s ongoing commitment to equity, we here at the School of Nursing harness how we innovated in crisis and chart our course to achieve our vision: optimal health and health equity for all.

In alignment with the UC Davis campus, UC Davis Health and the UC Davis School of Medicine strategic plans, the School of Nursing launched a comprehensive strategic plan. We seek to leverage our unique strengths to advance each mission area for measurable impact to our collective communities.

We engaged more than 200 people, including leadership, faculty, staff, students, alumni and postdoctoral scholars. Our goals for the next three to five years include providing an exceptional education and growing our research program to increased engagement with our community partners and integration within UC Davis Health.

Achieving those means we must also create an environment where all can thrive and where we identify, attract and retain diverse students, faculty and staff to advance diversity, equity and inclusion.

Our school is an exemplar at UC Davis for its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion issues — through our mission, vision and values to the ways in which we work with one another and collaborate with our community. We recognize the valuable role we have to play in addressing health care challenges facing our state.

More than half of Californians living with mental health illness do not receive the psychiatric care they need, and the situation is projected to get worse. Mental health needs surpass the availability of specialized providers. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the mental health crisis in California, underscoring the immense need for providers across the state. To answer the call, we, along with the UCSF and UCLA schools of nursing, partner to train 300 nurse practitioners across state to become psychiatric mental health specialists by 2025.

The pandemic has also led to burnout among some nurses and, at least according to one report, a potential shortage of more than 44,000 nurses by 2030. That presents both a challenge and an opportunity to develop a future workforce of nurses that mirror the diversity of the populations we serve.

The School of Nursing’s Summer Health Institute for Nursing Exploration and Success (SHINES) aims to do just that. Currently under development, the program would expose Sacramento high school students to the nursing profession, learn what nursing pathways suit their needs and how to succeed in their academic aspirations. The program is similar to Prep Médico, a partnership between the UC Davis School of Medicine and Kaiser Permanente to expand diversity in medicine and ultimately increase the number of Latinos who choose to become physicians.

“The Future of Nursing 2020-2030: Charting a Path to Achieve Health Equity” was released in May 2021. It offers a road map for how nurses can work to reduce health disparities and promote equity. The School of Nursing lives out its diversity statement “to prepare graduates who can inform and participate in improving the health policies needed for health equity to be achieved and for longstanding patterns of inequality to be interrupted.” Moving forward, we will fulfill our strategic goals to further our commitment to health equity.

Over the past two years, we’ve innovated in ways we never imagined and thrived in the face of incredible challenges. We approach this post-pandemic world with time-tested flexibility and continued resolve to apply all we’ve learned and keep working toward our mission, together, with you.