Dean Stephen J. Cavanagh
Dean Stephen J. Cavanagh

Dean’s Welcome
Change builds capacity, fulfills vision

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.” Those words, by coach and personal trainer Fred DeVito, likely referenced fitness. But they illustrate the power, beyond exercise, that we gain when embracing change and leveraging transformation to move toward a new goal or vision.

When I applied to be the second dean for the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis, I considered the exciting challenges of moving to a graduate nursing school that also educated physician assistants (P.A.s). Further, the opportunity to work closely with the UC Davis School of Medicine and UC Davis Heath to improve the health of California was an opportunity I could not resist. Now that I am dean, the full range of possibilities becomes evident. In fact, the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing exceeds my expectations.

With our neighboring top-10-ranked UC Davis School of Medicine in Sacramento and world-leading business, engineering, veterinary and agriculture programs in Davis, I see significant opportunities for interprofessional and cross-disciplinary collaborations. Creating new models of delivering health to our community using our nurse practitioners and P.A.s remains an important goal. We can create exciting and relevant online programming to meet the current and future needs of nurses and our health system. As a young school, we have the energy, enthusiasm and talent to look at health in a different way, forge new partnerships and collaborate to improve the health of those we serve.

The Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing faculty, students and alumni continually seek ways to improve the delivery of care to our community. We find new ways to deliver care more affordably, an aim of doctoral alumnus Satish Mahajan. Our work, however, is much more than just making care more affordable. We must work to improve the care given to people in their own homes and communities. Just look at how tapping into the power of music can lower the cost of medications while increasing the quality of life for older adults living with dementia.

A one-size-fits-most approach will not work in today’s increasingly complex health care environment. We must work to increase access to care, improve the quality of that care and reduce costs. The Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing strives to not only increase the size but also the diversity of the health workforce. Developing innovative approaches to interprofessional education, practice and research is a core mission of the School of Nursing and builds on UC Davis’ history of developing exceptional educational programs. The School of Nursing’s partnership in California’s Humboldt County demonstrates a commitment to creating innovative teams and improved patient outcomes. Alumnus Carter Todd’s research into African American men in nursing boldly steps forward to remove stereotypes and barriers to the nursing profession.

As we seek to change current health care delivery models, we must also transform how we educate future clinicians, researchers and educators. School of Nursing instructional innovation shows promise in improving students’ clinical reasoning, while active-learning methods prompt faculty to shift the paradigm and their priorities.

The Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing was founded to create health care practitioners, teachers, researchers and leaders capable of transforming our health care delivery system. To fulfill this powerful vision, we must rethink the roles of health professionals, reimagine how we educate our students, use learning space creatively and re-envision how care is delivered. This requires change.

At the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing, change is much more than shifting toward something different. It’s about building the capacity to do something new and sustaining momentum toward new goals. I’m proud to be at a school with a strong tradition of interprofessional education, a commitment to advancing nursing science and the desire to explore new strategies that can bring about substantial change in the lives of the people we serve. We strive every day to deliver on our aspiration to advance health and lead through innovative education, transformative research and bold system change.

Stephen J. Cavanagh

Stephen J. Cavanagh, PhD, MPA, R.N., FACHE, FAAN
Dignity Health Dean’s Chair for Nursing Leadership
Dean, Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing