Sharing knowledge, learning from others
Building upon UC Davis' longstanding tradition of interdisciplinary and interprofessional education, the university's newest graduate group – the Nursing Science and Health-Care Leadership Graduate Group – brings to fruition a new vision of leadership that will help advance the university into its second century of service and meet the needs of a newer, rapidly evolving and more complex health-care environment.
The Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis advances health and ignites leadership through innovative education, transformative research and bold system change. The school cultivates academic excellence through immersive, interprofessional and interdisciplinary education and research in partnership with the communities it serves. Faculty, staff and students discover and disseminate knowledge to advance health, improve quality of care and shape policy. The school does this through five core attributes:
"This new graduate degree program builds on UC Davis strengths in collaborative and interdisciplinary graduate education."
- Leadership development – build capacity for advocacy and action at all levels.
- Interprofessional/interdisciplinary education – health professionals learn multiple perspectives to work and communicate as teams.
- Transformative research – apply the science of nursing to improve health and reshape health systems with emphasis on aging, rural health and diverse communities.
- Cultural inclusiveness – teach culturally appropriate approaches to care and involve communities to design and conduct relevant research.
- Innovative technology – use technology to create an engaged and interactive approach to nursing education, research and practice.
The interdisciplinary, interprofessional graduate group is the educational foundation of the new Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. With classes starting this fall, the School of Nursing will launch a new and innovative approach to education that will result in two degrees – a Doctor of Philosophy and a Master of Science. Its graduates will serve as educators, researchers and leaders who promote health, advance quality of care and safety, and shape policy.
The core elements of the graduate group approach include an emphasis on shared research interests among faculty and students; flexibility to grow and change to reflect emerging areas of interdisciplinary knowledge and technology; and an acceptance that many research questions transcend traditional academic departmental boundaries.
Designed to embrace and further these core elements, the Nursing Science and Health-Care Leadership Graduate Group will lead UC Davis Health System as a whole toward a more thoroughly interprofessional culture, building upon the university's strong, well established and fairly unique tradition of multidisciplinary education. This strength was, in fact, one of the core elements in the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation's decision to provide the $100 million grant to found the school.
"This new graduate degree program builds on UC Davis strengths in collaborative and interdisciplinary graduate education," says Jeff Gibeling, dean of the UC Davis Office of Graduate Studies, which coordinates the university's graduate degree groups. "It will play a key role in our contributions to the economic and social well-being of communities."
A diverse group of nearly 30 faculty members from across UC Davis represent the most tangible example of interprofessional education, leading by example even before classes begin. Faculty represent a wide array of campus disciplines, including Nursing, Family and Community Medicine, Sociology, Cultural Studies, Nutrition, Health Informatics, Biostatistics, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Plant Sciences, among many others.
"Nursing science research is highly interdisciplinary in nature, often requiring expertise from different disciplines such as public health, economics, business administration, statistics and sociology. The Graduate Group structure is ideal because it is designed expressly to bring together faculty from all of the relevant disciplines," says Paul FitzGerald, chair of the School of Medicine Department of Cell Biology and Human Anatomy who is the Nursing Science and Health Care Leadership Graduate Group chairman.
"The structure is also very flexible and therefore adaptable to rapidly changing disciplines, and allows the group membership to evolve in parallel with the discipline, rather than being constrained by the bounds of a traditional department. You often hear the expression ‘thinking outside the box'. The graduate group structure eliminates the ‘box' to begin with, and creates an environment that can adapt to the student who proposes research at the confluence of many different disciplines."
Recognizing that nursing is collaborative in its art and science, health-care professionals must work seamlessly as a team to discover and implement transformative solutions for complex problems in health and health care. Graduate students of the School of Nursing will benefit from the rich learning environment afforded by the curriculum, which is designed to achieve knowledge and skill sets that are both broader and deeper than has historically been achieved in nursing education.
"Health care today requires interdisciplinary approaches to discover knowledge which will advance health and implement effective change for health systems and policy," says Heather M. Young, associate vice chancellor for nursing and founding dean of the School of Nursing. "We are in the unique position of being able to build a program that, from the start, will include opportunities for students and faculty to work and learn side-by-side."
Core courses will critically examine major issues such as current national and worldwide health conditions, the challenges of leadership, nursing and health-care research, and other fields – preparing students to be well versed in health informatics, business management and leadership, cultural studies and communications.
Innovative approach to education
The School of Nursing is approaching educating its students from a unique and innovative perspective. With community-based research being a key component of this environment, students can work with faculty mentors to design programs that meet their career aspirations. For example, a dietetics student might want to learn how to conduct dietetic research in order to improve health care, or a public health student may want to become involved with nursing research that impacts health policy.
Another goal involves the expansion of the curriculum, as the nursing school evolves, to effectively prepare nurses for the future of health care – a future characterized by such factors as the growth of health-care technology and informatics, more diverse and aging patient populations, and the need for effective and efficient management of health-care delivery systems.
Graduates of the Ph.D. program will fill university-level nurse faculty positions and leadership, research and advanced practice roles. Master's degree program graduates will be prepared for health-care leadership roles in a variety of organizations and as nurse faculty at the community college and prelicensure education levels.
"Our students are people who want to make a difference, who want to lead the transformation of health care through nursing education, research and leadership," Young says.
Long tradition of graduate groups
The Nursing Science and Health-Care Leadership Graduate Group both follows and expands upon the scope of graduate groups, long a key concept of graduate education at UC Davis.
UC Davis' graduate groups embody the university's collaborative spirit by bringing together faculty from departments across campus that share common research interests, either in academic discipline or area of application – establishing a culture of interaction across departmental lines, and helping to shape the university's distinctive character. More graduate groups are offered at UC Davis today – 48 out of 89 programs – than at any other campus of the UC system.
One example is the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology graduate group, which provides students with access to more than 133 faculty with research and instruction interests in both basic and applied sciences. These faculty members hold appointments in over 25 departments spanning the Colleges of Letters and Sciences, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, and the College of Biological Sciences.
The multidisciplinary Health Informatics Graduate Group includes more than 40 faculty members from the schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, the College of Engineering, the Health Sciences Library, and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.
Graduate groups in fields such as public health have been so successful that discussions are now in process regarding developing an expanded graduate group in public health leadership and practice as a prelude to establishing a School of Public Health.
"Our vision for education is one where our schools train teams of health-care providers that work together," says Jana Katz-Bell, associate dean of Interprofessional Education, who holds a 50 percent appointment to the School of Nursing and 50 percent appointment to the School of Medicine. "By sharing multiple perspectives to work and communicate as teams, we can focus on and more effectively reach the joint goal of better health for patients and populations. The Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing marks a significant achievement for UC Davis in its second century of service."
Spring / Summer 2010
UC Davis Health System is proud to be home to medical, nursing, family nurse practitioner / physician assistant, public health and health informatics students and to also be the internship site for pharmacy, nutrition and other programs. Improving the health of our communities requires that we bring together these perspectives, and UC Davis is well positioned to do so.