Two Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis Postdoctoral Fellows recently received appointments at prestigious nursing colleges, adding their names to a growing list of the school’s postdoctoral alumni tapped to educate the next generation of nurses at colleges and universities nationwide.

Michelle Fennessy and Hermine Poghosyan © UC Regents
Michelle Fennessy and Hermine Poghosyan © UC Regents

Michelle Fennessy was appointed an assistant professor at The Ohio State University College of Nursing. Hermine Poghosyan was appointed assistant professor at University of Massachusetts at Boston College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

Since the school’s 2009 founding, seven of eight postdoctoral alumni earned faculty positions educating new nurses in schools across the country. The accomplishment is significant said Deborah Ward, associate dean for academics, because a key goal for the school is the preparation of nurse educators of the future.

“Our nation needs an enormous number of skilled nurses to care for us, now and in the future,” Ward said. “Educating them — and preparing educators for the next generations — is our work. The development of new nurse faculty is a primary goal of our school.”

Two years before students were ever enrolled, the UC Davis nursing school recruited postdoctoral scholars — recent doctoral graduates — for two-year fellowships that prepare the new researchers for faculty positions. Such postdoctoral programs provide new researchers time to pursue scholarly interests in areas of specialized content.

“These fellowships provide postdoctoral scholars with a variety of options often not available at other schools. As a new nursing school, we’ve only just begun to develop our research programs,” said Jill Joseph, associate dean for research. “Here, they have a unique opportunity to make their experience truly their own. Because of our commitment to interprofessional education and research, our scholars are also exposed to scientists and projects from across campus.”

Fennessy and Poghosyan, who complete their postdoctoral training and transition to their new faculty roles this month, both said their experiences at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing fully prepared them for this important first step as faculty.

“It was wonderful to have exposure to so many different elements of the work of research, from designing the project to implementing it,” Poghosyan said. “I really immersed myself into understanding the grant and research award process. I better understand and am prepared to lead a project step-by-step through the grant process.”

While at UC Davis, Poghosyan continued her research focused on cancer care and supported the development of new research in this area.

Fennessy conducted research in the area of cardiovascular disease in women while at UC Davis. Over the course of the two-year appointment, she garnered several achievements and accomplishments, including an invitation to present at an international conference in Australia and appointments to two American Heart Association expert committees. Additionally, Fennessy co-founded Medical Registry Reporting Solutions, a data management company that was launched after she said she “tinkered with the long-standing problem of complex clinical registries in cardiology.”

“The Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing provided me the platform to take my research to the national level,” Fennessy said. “I had access to many connections, not just here at UC Davis Health System, but also on campus in Davis. It was up to me to use those connections to advance my research and my career but UC Davis provided the very necessary platform.”

The two postdoctoral scholars joined the UC Davis nursing research team after completing doctoral studies at other universities. Fennessy earned a doctorate in nursing science from the University of Illinois at Chicago and Poghosyan earned a doctorate in nursing the University of Massachusetts at Boston College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

Joseph said she and other faculty look forward to seeing the impact of these young researchers on future nurses.

“We are delighted that the time these promising nursing scholars spent as postdoctoral fellows at UC Davis provides the basis for their initial appointments at prestigious institutions,” Joseph said. “We all take great pride in the contributions each will make to developing nursing research and educating the next generation of nurse leaders.”

Other postdoctoral scholar alumni currently working in faculty positions include Casey Shillam, who was appointed to the nursing faculty at The Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing in 2012 and recently accepted a director position at Western Washington University to lead a new bachelor’s nursing program there. Debra Bakerjian leads the nurse practitioner and physician assistant programs at UC Davis and Dian Baker is an associate professor of nursing at California State University, Sacramento. Tara Sharpp is an adjunct professor at California State University, Stanislaus, School of Nursing at its Stockton site. Samira Jones is an adjunct faculty teaching food service management courses for the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences at California State University, Sacramento.

About the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis
The Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis was established in March 2009 through a $100 million commitment from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the nation's largest grant for nursing education. The vision of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing is to transform health care through nursing education and research. Through nursing leadership, the school discovers knowledge to advance health, improve quality of care and health outcomes, and inform health policy. The school's first programs, a doctoral and a master's degree program, opened in fall 2010. Additional students and programs will be phased in over the next decade. The Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing is part of UC Davis Health System, an integrated, academic health system encompassing the UC Davis School of Medicine, the 619-bed-acute-care hospital and clinical services of UC Davis Medical Center and the 800-member physician group known as the UC Davis Medical Group. For more information, visit http://nursing.ucdavis.edu.