NEWS | December 23, 2015

UC Davis nursing school opens program to prepare new nurses

Master's Entry Program in Nursing offers 18-month accelerated degree


Applications opened today for a new nursing program at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis. For the first time, UC Davis now offers a degree program that prepares new nurses.

The Master’s Entry Program in Nursing is an 18-month, accelerated-degree program that offers the quickest route to registered nursing licensure for adults who already completed an undergraduate degree in another discipline as well as prerequisite courses. Graduates of the program are qualified to take the national licensing examination for registered nurses (NCLEX) and eligible for certification as a Public Health Nurse. They earn Master of Science in Nursing degrees.

According to Theresa Harvath, the school’s associate dean for academics and director for clinical education, the new program is unlike most other prelicensure nursing programs.

“We have the very rare opportunity to educate a better nurse for the future — a future that is still evolving now,” Harvath said.

The program features a concept-based curriculum where learning activities, based on realistic case scenarios, are presented throughout several courses during the same time period so students learn the concepts in deep, complex ways. Rarely does content in more traditional nursing programs make such connections with other materials throughout the curriculum. Concept-based learning decreases course isolation and facilitates learning across the program.

For example, students might study perfusion and oxygenation in the biophysical concepts course. During that same week they will study medications related to the cardiovascular system in the pharmacology course, cardiopulmonary assessment in the health assessment course, and engage in a simulation experience in the foundations course, where the patient might present with a variety of conditions and symptoms that relate to perfusion.

“Our program is designed to help students fully understand the overarching concepts and how all the pieces fit together,” Harvath said.

Five years ago, more than 80 percent of new nurses moved into hospital positions after graduation. That number has decreased to less than 60 percent with a heightened emphasis on primary care, transitional care and community-focused-care initiatives aimed at teaching people with chronic diseases how to manage their conditions. Nurses need to provide care in nontraditional settings. Yet, few nursing schools prepare graduates for work outside of the acute-care setting.

Harvath said the new Master’s Entry Program in Nursing prepares nurses for these emerging roles in health care.

“We created a program where we build a better nurse: one competent to function in either an acute-care or community-based setting, who recognizes health disparities, care for older adults and rural health,” Harvath said.

Guided by the School of Nursing’s core values of leadership development, interprofessional and interdisciplinary education, transformative research, cultural inclusiveness and innovative technology, the Master’s Entry Program in Nursing prepares new nurses as leaders in quality and safety, advocates for diverse patient populations, and agents of change for healthier communities.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, entry-level master’s programs are in the highest demand of all nursing programs. Additionally, more than 90 percent of entry-level master’s-degree graduates are employed as nurses within six months of graduation, a rate that far exceeds other nursing preparation programs. Graduates of an entry-level master’s degree program report higher salaries than students who complete bachelor’s- or associate-degree programs.

The new Master’s Entry Program in Nursing was approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing in April and recently received final approval by the University of California Office of the President. Applications are now open for enrollment in the inaugural class in summer 2016. The school plans to admit a first class of 24 students with classes increasing annually to reach 48 students admitted each summer, which is expected by about 2020.

Learn more and apply for the Master’s Entry Program in Nursing on the school’s website at The general application deadline for summer 2016 enrollment is Feb. 1, 2016. All 24 admission slots are expected to fill during this period. Applications submitted from Feb. 2 to March 1, 2016, are reviewed on a space-available basis only.

Like other School of Nursing programs, the Master’s Entry Program in Nursing is led by the interprofessional Nursing Science and Health-Care Leadership Graduate Group, a team of nearly 60 faculty members from across UC Davis. Other Nursing Science and Health-Care Leadership Degrees include a Doctor of Philosophy, master’s-degree leadership degree for registered nurses and master’s-degree programs for nurse practitioner and physician assistant studies.