The Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis announces a new Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students (SDS) program*. Funded by a $2.6 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the program provides tuition support to disadvantaged students in the school’s entry-level nursing program.

Piri Ackerman-Barger serves as program director for a new scholarship program for disadvantaged students at the School of Nursing.
Piri Ackerman-Barger serves as program director for a new scholarship program for disadvantaged students at the School of Nursing.

“A mission of this school is to achieve health equity by embracing the voices and perspectives of people from diverse backgrounds and experiences,” said Piri Ackerman-Barger, associate dean for Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and director for the new scholarship program. “This tuition support mitigates barriers to students applying to graduate school and takes some of the financial pressure off of students enrolled in the program, which sets them up for success for graduating and giving back to society.”

School administrators focus strongly on recruiting, admitting and retaining a high percentage of underrepresented minority students with the potential for clinical excellence and advanced leadership from rural and underserved areas. Toward this end, the SDS tailors recruitment activities to the needs of disadvantaged and underrepresented minority students, enhances retention activities for all students and provide specialized services to disadvantaged students, and increases student exposure to primary care and community health settings and careers while increasing graduate employment in Medically Underserved Communities.

To successfully recruit students to the Master’s Entry Program in Nursing, Ackerman-Barger and the school’s education team develop resources to help disadvantaged students navigate the admissions process. The team also conducts a prenursing course for undergraduate UC Davis students who seek a career in nursing, as well as collaboration with advisers at other undergraduate institutions, including UC Merced, and local community colleges.

“Our faculty and staff play a crucial role in our commitment to recruiting and retaining students from underrepresented populations,” Dean Stephen Cavanagh added. “A new ambassador program supports prospective students who may require additional guidance, especially those who are first in their family to earn a college degree.”

Other key initiatives of the SDS include a tutoring program, general learning assistance with targeted delivery to disadvantaged students; a yearly survey among new alumni to, gauge the school’s diversity climate and annual faculty development sessions that focus on inclusion excellence.

“Inclusive learning environments are necessary to ensure that underrepresented students not only survive school, but also thrive and reach their full potential,” Ackerman-Barger says. “Diversity is central for all health professions to mitigate health disparities and improve patient outcomes.”

For more about the Master’s Entry Program in Nursing, visit the program’s website. For more information on the School of Nursing and its other programs, visit nursing.ucdavis.edu.

*The Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $ $2,677,250. The contents here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.