Interim Dean Debbie Ward and Dean Emerita Heather M. Young
Interim Dean Debbie Ward and Dean Emerita Heather M. Young

Interim Dean’s Welcome
Reflection forms innovation

One decade ago, UC Davis tapped Heather M. Young to launch the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis and fulfill a grand vision to advance health and ignite leadership through innovative education, transformative research and bold system change. I was fortunate to be the first faculty member for our school. Now, 10 years later, I’m proud the baton passes to me to serve as interim dean and lead this innovative School of Nursing into the next phase of growth, possibilities — and ultimately — new leadership.

In developing this School of Nursing, funders, leaders and founding faculty challenged convention, first by looking back at how other creative organizations launched, and then looking forward to what we dreamed we could be and how our school would realize Betty Irene Moore’s vision. Innovation lies at our core. The challenge before us now is to ensure that innovation is an everyday occurrence.

Innovation requires strength and energy; but it also needs time for reflection. It demands we take into account all we know as clinicians, scholars and educators about the diversity of human conditions, the multiple constituencies we serve and our ultimate goal of transforming health care. That transformation will only happen when we create a culture in which different perspectives are eagerly sought and highly valued. Learn more about our vision for diversity and inclusion and how those values are living out through the students we recruit and faculty who guide them.

Our innovative spirit was not bred in cut-throat competition, but born out of the need for collaboration. Our early staff and faculty leaders established an ethos of teamwork and sharing of ideas, which continues in our research and coursework today. That spirit of collaboration now calls on us to be synthesizers of information, bringing people and ideas together for critical examination of complex issues and for important decision making. That is illustrated through endeavors highlighted in this issue, such as The Research Priorities in Caregiving Summit. Another area in which we serve as an aggregator of experts from various disciplines and broker of important conversations is through the Healthy Aging in a Digital World initiative.

We continue to innovate in the classroom as well. As you will read, Betty Irene Moore Hall realizes our dream to make active learning an everyday happening. Our outstanding faculty use these creative spaces to build the interprofessional teamwork skills our students need for the critical thinking and problem solving they will enact in their future practice, research and leadership.

Our innovative approach to research and education reaches beyond the borders of U  Davis and California. Nursing schools across the country are turning away qualified applicants due to a shortage of instructors. In response to this need, our doctoral alumni and former postdoctoral scholars from the School of Nursing take on faculty positions from coast to coast. Here at home, discover how graduates from our master’s-degree leadership program leverage a shared perspective on leadership in nursing as clinical instructors for master’s-entry students.

The investment we make in our students goes beyond the classroom. This school was built on philanthropy; that spirit is alive and well in faculty and staff who are also donors to the school. I am inspired by their commitment to our mission and the strong foundation they, along with many others, helped us build.

As African-American abolitionist Harriet Tubman said, “Every great dream begins with a dreamer.” This school launched with a dream, matured with a team of dreamers and continues to thrive, thanks to our students, staff and faculty, along with a host of collaborators and partners. I look forward to using our school’s vigorous energy and its capacity for deep reflection to spark innovation, so our dreams will be realized.

Deborah Ward signature

Deborah Ward, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N.

Dignity Health Dean’s Chair for Nursing Leadership

Interim Dean, Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing