A Message from Heather M. Young Associate Vice Chancellor for Nursing;
Dean, Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis
A salute to our nation’s nurses in honor of National Nurses Week
In celebration of National Nurses Week, May 6-12, the team of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing salutes the nation’s registered nurses for their dedication, expertise and commitment to the nursing profession:
• for making a difference in the lives of members of our community,
• for promoting health and advancing policy,
• for leading programs and services in innovative and meaningful ways and
• for improving our communities.
There has never been a better time to be a nurse. Our world and our nation are changing in remarkable ways – opportunity is emerging in the midst of crisis. There is widespread recognition that our health-care system does not deliver high-quality health care to all. The acute care paradigm which governed the design of care systems must be remodeled, with a new emphasis on chronic conditions and life-long health management. The nation’s understaffed primary care systems can utilize the proven capacities of many different providers to expand the services needed in our communities. There is also a growing understanding that health is not only about care that is delivered, but is affected by the vitality of our communities, the availability of safe and accessible food, housing, and recreation, and the strength of our educational system. More than ever before, consumers are better educated and personally interested in managing their own health. Technology brings many new resources to solve old problems and open new ways of communicating and managing health. At the same time, our population is getting older and more diverse, and the demand for innovative approaches to staying healthy and managing chronic disease will grow exponentially in the coming years.
It is a time for unprecedented changes as new directions are sought. Nurses are in an ideal position to lead the way to health in the future. Nurses understand health at many levels - from the individual to the family, the community, the population and the world. Nurses attend to human responses to illness – promoting comfort, function and well-being. Nurses are part of human experiences with health and illness, coaching individuals and families to cope, coordinating complex care among large teams and in many settings, integrating information provided by the client with the expert opinions and recommendations of health-care providers, providing encouragement and support through the darkest times, and celebrating progress and improvements. Nurses are adept at managing people and technology, navigating systems and organizations, and advocating for the people they serve. Nurses make a difference from the bedside to the boardroom.
It is indeed remarkable that as we enter the second century of UC Davis in this centennial year, one of the first major initiatives is the launch of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. I am awed by the historic nature of this event and honored to be a part of this extraordinary vision. As we look forward into the next century, I am also looking back at the history of nursing, and I am finding that our thoughts today for transformation are a strong echo of the foundations of the nursing profession, going back almost two centuries.
The University of California has played an important role in California nursing history from the outset. Just over 100 years ago, in 1905, the UC Board of Regents was given power by the state legislature to set standards, administer exams, approve educational programs, issue certificates and revoke certificates of registered nurses. This preceded the establishment of the Bureau of Registration of Nurses (now known as the Board of Registered Nursing), formed by the legislature under the state Board of Health in 1913. The Board of Registered Nursing then took up the charge of administering exams, registering nurses, revoking licenses and accrediting nursing schools – much as it does today. A diploma program for the education of nurses was first offered by the University of California in 1907, when it established the Hospital Training School for Nurses. Instruction in public health nursing leading to certification was first offered to graduate nurses in 1918 on the Berkeley campus in the Department of Hygiene. On March 17, 1939, the Regents authorized the establishment of a School of Nursing at Berkeley and UCSF, the first autonomous school of nursing in any state university. On March 19, 2009, 70 years later, the Regents authorized the establishment of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis.
Going back to the century before, I cannot help but recognize the roots of nursing’s current thinking in the work of Florence Nightingale, whose birthday we celebrate May 12. She is widely known as the founder of modern nursing, but she is also a pioneer and activist in several other arenas, including public health, rural health, health care in the military and nursing research. She embodies the core values that drive our founding work at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing – promoting health, recognizing the power of the environment to promote healing, changing policy to make systems more responsive and supportive of population needs, using data to understand health phenomena and improve care, and establishing education and mentorship to advance the profession. Nightingale had a deep commitment to caring for the underserved. The issues she dealt with remain important today. In hospitals, we are challenged daily with the problem of life-threatening infections and other adverse outcomes. In our communities, people do not have safe and reliable food sources, housing and education. The solutions Nightingale suggested are just as important today. At the core of her work is leadership.
Leadership is part of nursing practice, from the bedside to the boardroom. Leadership makes nurses’ encounters with patients and families positive for them, ensures the highest possible quality and safety with every action they take, and constantly questions whether nurses are doing the right thing with their time and resources and whether they are learning from our practice and reflecting on our work. Nurses are witnesses and agents in some of life’s most intimate and intense moments – at times of birth, death, injury, illness, loss and recovery. They are closely involved with patients and families as they go through these challenging times, providing support and coaching to them through the many phases of these experiences, the many emotions, the high points and the low points on the trajectory of health and illness.
Leadership is also about working as a team – sharing the roles and responsibilities among different members, all committed to the same outcome. Leadership is expressed when we collaborate, work to resolve conflicts and promote healthy relationships among our team. Leadership is also good followership – recognizing that the contributions of every person are much more effective when they are coordinated, consistent and moving in the same direction. Leadership is mentorship – being committed to the development of the next generation of nurses, providing support, guidance and vision.
Leadership goes beyond our units and organizations – it is the trust that members of our community have in nurses, knowing that this profession is dedicated to the public good, to improving health and society. It is the actions we take as neighbors, friends and citizens of our community – speaking up when there is injustice, extending compassion and kindness, and advocating for the resources and policies that make our society a better place to grow and thrive.
Leadership is about self-reflection – the willingness to take a long hard look at ourselves, and to take responsibility for our actions and our ongoing growth as professionals. It is about reflecting on our motivations, our intentions, where we put our energy and our emphasis, and the investments we make in our ongoing learning. It is about taking risks – extending ourselves beyond our comfort zones. It is about courage to face the most difficult situations, retaining our compassion and humor.
Finally, leadership is a journey – it is a lifelong adventure, becoming more complex and rich as we develop to our full potential. For those of you who are nurses, or who wish to pursue a career in nursing, I wish you a dynamic and fulfilling journey of nursing leadership.
Heather M. Young, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N.
Associate Vice Chancellor for Nursing
Dean, Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis
P.S. Please help us spread the word about the proposed Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing - invite your friends and colleagues to visit us online at http://nursing.ucdavis.edu. They can be added to our electronic mailing list by clicking on the Contact Us link. Thank you!
View our timeline for past, present, and future milestones in the development of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.