Enriching communities with strong nurse leaders

It took him 20 years to return to nursing school to earn a master’s degree; now, Sergio Camarillo says he sees endless opportunities to expand his learning. Since graduating from the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis in 2013 with a Master of Science Degree in Leadership, Camarillo has gone on to earn a Master of Business Administration and is currently enrolled in a fellowship program through the California Health Care Foundation.

“I cannot stop now,” Camarillo says with a laugh. “I see the endless opportunity to learn more, to make improvements, to take every opportunity.”

Camarillo combines a passion to improve access to care for the underserved patients in his community with his now expanded research, business and leadership skills to oversee several projects exploring expansion of services in his medical center units. After leaving UC Davis, he was promoted to director of Patient Care Services for Critical Care, Cardiac, Emergency, Trauma, and the Center of Excellence and Development at Memorial Medical Center in Modesto.

“Before I earned my master’s degree, I had ideas about how to improve care but I didn’t have the skills to put the right plan together for others to see my vision. Now, I have a proven record. Now they listen,” he says. “My goal is to find viable business models to provide treatments and clinical services so Modesto residents don’t have to go somewhere else.”

His desire to improve the community’s health extends beyond his role at the Sutter Health Memorial Medical Center. In continuation of his master’s thesis research exploring the cultural beliefs of Mexican-Americans in relationship to their low utilization of hospice and palliative care services, Camarillo works with a Catholic church partnership to advance palliative care for local residents.

“It’s about whole-person care,” he explains. “I want to empower patients to make decisions before the conversations are difficult and families are forced to make uninformed decisions.”

For Camarillo, his master’s-degree education at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing opened unexpected doors.

“I knew I would learn how to do the research; I needed to learn certain skills. I also gained so much more at UC Davis. I learned there that I am a leader. I can reach out to others to network and partner, and make these things happen,” he says.

“Sergio came into graduate school a skilled and compassionate nurse, but I think we helped his strong leadership potential come alive. He gained voice and strategy, and broadened his knowledge—all building on his innate deep intellect and strong sense of justice,” says Clinical Professor Deborah Ward. “He exemplifies the best of what graduate school can do—build on already existing talents to bring newly motivated leaders back to enrich our shared communities.”

Leaders, like Camarillo, who now mentor and motivate others.

“I will always appreciate the relationships I built at UC Davis, with professors, staff, everyone,” Camarillo says. “You can always learn.”