New nursing collaboration addresses discrimination, advances diversity and inclusion


UC Davis Health is tackling racism by giving nurses new tools to address discrimination. The effort includes a culture focused on relationships as well as anti-racism and cultural humility training at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.

A new partnership at UC Davis Health is helping empower nurses to address racism.
A new partnership at UC Davis Health is helping empower nurses to address racism.

A more inclusive health care environment is the goal of a new clinical nursing and academic collaboration supported by the chief nursing officer at UC Davis Medical Center, Toby Marsh, and the dean of the School of Nursing, Stephen J. Cavanagh.

The combined effort complements a recent announcement by the American Nurses Association’s membership assembly, which specifically calls racism a “public health crisis.” The Code of Ethics for Nurses “obligates nurses to be allies and to advocate and speak up against racism, discrimination and injustice.”  

“We know that racism truly impacts mental, spiritual and physical health,” said Theresa Pak, nurse manager and the relationship-based culture and wellness strategist at UC Davis Medical Center, as well as a School of Nursing alumna. “Nurses have such an important role to play in advocating for social justice.”

Pak added that the new initiative will focus on protecting and promoting inclusive strategies in practice settings and policy, helping empower UC Davis Health's nursing community and the people they serve.

“The key goal of this partnership is to advance efforts that address nursing diversity, inclusiveness, health equity and anti-racism using evidence-based, data-driven strategies,” said Jann Murray-García, associate clinical professor at the School of Nursing, director of social justice and immersive learning at UC Davis Health’s Office of Health Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, and one of the facilitators for the initiative. She is also the co-founder of Cultural Humility, an internationally recognized approach to equitable and culturally respectful patient care.

Joining Murray-García and Pak in leading the Anti-Racism and Cultural Humility (ARC) training project are the School of Nursing’s associate dean of health equity, diversity and inclusion, Kupiri Ackerman-Barger, and Victoria Ngo, a postdoctoral scholar and alumna of the school. Other fellow alumni Lori Madden, director of the Center for Nursing Science, and clinical nurse Andrea Vega Breaux round out support of the program team.

In addition to developing a training program, UC Davis Nursing has also established a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Council, which is led by Carter Todd and Kywaita Keyes.

The DEI Council is designed to implement and maintain nursing standards consistent with evidence-based practices that address issues of discrimination within the Patient Care Services department and nursing. It is aligned with the UC Davis Principles of Community and the university’s mission and vision, which are committed to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion as integral to the well-being of staff, students and faculty, as well as patients and their families.

Indeed, the Principles of Community, which includes the following statement, provides much of the inspiration for the team’s work.

“We confront and reject all manifestations of discrimination, including those based on race, ethnicity, gender and gender expression, age, visible and non-visible disability, nationality, sexual orientation, citizenship status, veteran status, religious/non-religious, spiritual, or political beliefs, socio-economic class, status within or outside the university, or any of the other differences among people which have been excuses for misunderstanding, dissension or hatred.”

Ngo and Pak both noted that the new initiatives and collaboration also help to optimize “cultural humility, awareness of historical scripts of inequality, and the ongoing development of healthy and health-giving racial identities.”

This multi-dimensional learning, they added, is to be firmly based on the values driving the mission of UC Davis Health nursing: love, courage, integrity and compassion.