NEWS | February 27, 2012

School of Nursing graduate students head to state capitol


Several master's- and doctoral-degree students from the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis spent the day at the state capitol on Feb. 22 to learn more about the legislative process as part of a leadership course. The 14 students also met with legislators and their staff to share student experiences and how they hope to change health care through their research and possibly influence policy.

Master's-degree student Daniel Aquino in the California Senate chambers
Master's-degree student Daniel Aquino takes a turn swinging the gavel in the California Senate chambers.

"Spending the day at the capitol helps students realize what goes into making and changing policy," said Professor Mary Lou de Leon Siantz, who attended the educational legislative day alongside students. "It is important for our students to learn how policies made at the state or regional level are adopted because the health of the communities are directly affected."

Assemblymember Roger Dickinson (D--Sacramento) spoke to the students about legislative processes and encouraged engagement at all levels of government. As a former member of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, Dickinson is an advocate for welfare reform, clean air, improved transportation and smart growth. He cited his experience working with community groups to make positive changes in his district as the most rewarding part of his job. Dickinson encouraged students to seek out ways to change the world in small ways around them.

To get a broader University-of-California perspective, students received a briefing from Legislative Director Angela Gillard about UC Office of the President health-science advocacy. Students were also welcomed onto the Senate floor, where Susan McKee, district director for Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D--Sacramento), spoke about the difference between operations at capitol and district offices.

In between meetings with legislative members and their staff, students attended an informational hearing at a Senate Select Committee on autism and related disorders. UC Davis Health System Assistant Dean of Interprofessional Programs Jana Katz-Bell spoke about the current applications of technology in health care and autism.

The students broke into smaller groups to meet with Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D--Walnut Creek) and with legislative staff from the offices of Sens. Ted Gaines (R--Roseville), Steinberg, Michael Rubio (D--Fresno) and Lois Wolk (D--Davis) and Assemblymembers Beth Gaines (R--Roseville) and Richard Pan (D--Sacramento). Students educated legislators and staff about the school's mission and how the program differs from other nursing programs.

The School of Nursing prepares nurse leaders, researchers and faculty in a unique interdisciplinary and interprofessional environment. The doctoral program prepares graduates as leaders in health care, health policy and nurse faculty/researchers at the university level. Graduates of the master's-degree program are well prepared for health-care leadership roles in a variety of organizations and as nurse faculty at the community college and prelicensure education levels.

About the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis
For 100 years, UC Davis has engaged in teaching, research and public service that matters to California and to transform the world. The Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis was established in March 2009, UC Davis' first major initiative to address society's most pressing health-care problems in its second century of service. The school was launched through a $100 million commitment from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the nation's largest grant for nursing education. The vision of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing is to transform health care through nursing education and research. Through nursing leadership, the school will discover knowledge to advance health, improve quality of care and health outcomes, and inform health policy. The school's first programs, a doctoral and a master's degree program, opened in fall 2010. Additional students and programs will be phased in over the next decade. The Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing is part of the UC Davis Health System, an integrated, academic health system encompassing UC Davis School of Medicine, the 645-bed-acute-care hospital and clinical services of UC Davis Medical Center and the 800-member physician group known as the UC Davis Medical Group. For more information, visit