New nursing students sitting on steps smiling

UC Davis nursing school welcomes new students

First time future health care professionals join school in person since 2019


A firefighter. A high school math teacher. A barista. A rural nurse.

These are just a few of the former occupations of the newest students at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis. This week, 145 future health care professionals embark upon their graduate school journey.

Future registered nurses and physician assistants (P.A.) arrived on campus with dreams of changing the status quo of health care. Future advanced practice providers met online for the launch of the School of Nursing’s newest degree program, the Doctor of Nursing Practice — Family Nurse Practitioner Degree Program (D.N.P.-F.N.P.). All came to the only graduate school created to activate change where it is needed most.

“There’s great diversity in this group. We believe that their different perspectives are critical to help the school advance our mission of preparing leaders who advance health, transform health care and ignite bold system change locally, nationally and globally," said Dean Stephen Cavanagh

The entry-level nursing and P.A. students come from as close as Sacramento and as far away as Rhode Island and Florida. They represent more than 25 nationalities and speak a combined 26 languages. For the past three days, they’ve learned the history of the school, details about the next few months of study and all the resources available to them while a UC Davis student.

Students standing on stairway smiling and waving arms in the air.
Among the School of Nursing’s newest classes are 48 graduate students pursing a Master of Science in Nursing degree.

“I decided to become a registered nurse because I want to advocate for and directly assist persons with disabilities and those experiencing chronic pain,” said Erica Stansfield, an incoming nursing student. “I admired the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing’s goal to establish community connection and patient well-being post-care.”

Incoming P.A. student Gabriel Bascara knew he wanted to be a health care provider, but at first, he wasn't sure which profession. "Not until I became an emergency department medical scribe did I learn of the P.A. profession,” he said. “P.A.s are helping to make health care more accessible to communities who are underserved. I believe that quality health care should be inclusive and accessible to everyone. I chose UC Davis because I align with the values that the entity holds.”

Inaugural class of DNPs enters

In addition to the established P.A. and the entry-level nursing programs, the new D.N.P.-F.N.P launched this week. The 32 members of the inaugural class gathered virtually to officially begin the sixth degree program at the School of Nursing that prepares new family nurse practitioners. The majority of the class is from across California, and many are nurses in rural parts of the state including Chico and Fresno.

“By nature of choosing a D.N.P. and this one in particular, we bring together people with the desire of creating health care transformation,” explained Kathryn Sexson, D.N.P.-F.N.P. program director. “These first students are filled with potential to make our systems better for our patients and our profession.”

The three-year hybrid program combines distance-based education with four on-campus immersions, the first coming in late September. It’s designed for nurses with a bachelor’s degree who seek to be family nurse practitioners.

Students in the Master’s Entry Program in Nursing will spend the next 18 months in an accelerated program. At the end they can take the national licensing examination (NCLEX) for registered nurses. Students working toward a Master of Health Services — Physician Assistant Studies degree face 27 months of rigorous coursework and clinical rotations before they are ready to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) exam.

The Nursing Science and Health-Care Leadership Graduate Degree Programs are led by an interprofessional team of more than 55 faculty from across UC Davis. To learn more about the graduate programs at the School of Nursing visit