NEWS | June 27, 2013

UC Davis scholars spend week in nation's capital to focus on policy


UC Davis Health System scholars meet with Doris Matsui
UC Davis scholars meet with Congresswoman Doris Matsui during the Leadership Education and Policy Development Program visit in Washington, D.C.

A group of seven UC Davis Health System students, faculty and fellows recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to take part in a program designed to develop health-care professionals’ leadership skills and policy expertise, meet with members of Congress and visit the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Nursing Professor Mary Lou de Leon Siantz leads the Leadership Education and Policy Development Program along with Robert Waste, the assistant director of government and community relations at UC Davis Health System. They traveled to the nation’s capital with an interprofessional group of students and scholars for the policy-intensive program conducted June 17-21. De Leon Siantz created the program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, where she was an assistant dean prior to her appointment at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.

“As a Hispanic researcher and mentor I learned early on the importance of communicating findings to advocate for the most vulnerable populations working with national, regional and community leaders and want to teach others to do the same,” de Leon Siantz said. “Leadership Education and Policy Development Program students learn to use their research expertise to effect change on a broad level. They have the opportunity to shape a healthier future through the legislative process and this program gives them a foundation to do so.”

Participants in the four-day program included two doctoral candidates and one doctoral student in the Nursing Science and Health-Care Leadership Graduate Degree Program, a Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing Postdoctoral Fellow and a Primary Care Outcomes Research Fellow in the UC Davis School of Medicine’s Department of Internal Medicine.

The group participated in an interprofessional panel discussion which included leaders and staff of the Institute of Medicine, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Association of Academic Health Centers and the National Association of Social Workers. Program participants learned as teams, across disciplines, in keeping with the health system’s interprofessional approach to health education. 

Leaders at the NIH Clinical Center’s Nursing Department provided a tour of the National Library of Medicine and the center’s patient care areas. The clinical center is the nation's largest hospital devoted entirely to clinical research. The group met with senior level nurses who provided an overview of health-care education opportunities, funding opportunities and support provided for researchers at a variety of levels.  

The agenda also included a visit to the National Institute of Nursing Research, where the participants met with the program directors that focus on minority health and external programs. The leaders reviewed the institute’s current priorities and opportunities for pre- and postdoctoral participants. The group completed the day at the Health Resources and Services Administration where they learned about the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and opportunities for leaders within the administration.

Waste and Shoshana Derrow, director of health and clinical affairs at the Office of Federal Government Relations for the University of California, led a legislative overview to the students and fellows. Together, de Leon Siantz and Waste taught the group how to use their research and clinical expertise to inform policy makers and provide leadership that transforms health care.

Directed by de Leon Siantz, who is nationally recognized for her work to prepare health professionals for leadership and policy, the students and scholars met with representatives from Congresswoman Doris Matsui’s office and Senator Barbara Boxer’s office. They also met Terrance W. Gainer, the United States Senate Sergeant at Arms—the protocol and chief law enforcement officer for the U.S. Senate.

In addition to seminars and meetings, students completed readings and a policy analysis paper as part of the credit-bearing program. The course’s educational benefits continue back in Sacramento, where the group will engage in follow-up projects focused on state health issues.

About the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis
The Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis was established in March 2009 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 discovers 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. For more information, visit