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UC Davis Health System

UC Davis Health System

Learning and working in teams

Heather Young
As associate vice chancellor for nursing, Heather M. Young directs recruitment and implements the vision for the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis.

While working the night shift as an intensive-care nurse soon after graduating, UC Davis’ new associate vice chancellor for nurs­ing, Heather M. Young, had the opportunity to care for many patients — and to begin thinking about how she could improve patient care and nurse education.

“Many of the people who ended up in the ICU got there because of problems in the community and lifestyle choices, such as not wearing a seat belt, drinking and driving, or eating unhealthy foods,” said Young. “Others were elderly with multiple and complex health conditions whose bodies were less able to rebound from trauma and surgery and were more sensitive to medications. I realized that my training hadn’t prepared me well. I needed more information about how to manage patients’ special needs, help them and their families after discharge, and work within health systems to better promote healthy aging.”

With those goals in mind, Young returned to school, and completed a master’s degree in gerontological nursing and a doctor of philosophy in nursing science at the University of Washington. Today, she is among the nation’s foremost thought-leaders in nursing education and science, recognized for her work in the field of rural health care and gerontological nursing.

A fellow in the prestigious Ameri­can Academy of Nursing, she founded the Office of Rural Health Research and served as director of the John A. Hartford Center of Geriatric Nursing Excel­lence at the Oregon Health & Science University. Now at UC Davis and thanks to a historic $100-million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, she has the unprecedented opportunity to apply her immense knowledge and skills to transform nurse education.

The Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis has a clear vision to foster nursing excellence through a comprehensive educational model that goes well beyond the traditional boundaries of nursing programs,” said Young. “The opportunity to build a new program that from the start will include opportuni­ties for students to learn side-by-side with students in medicine, business and other disciplines enriches the educational environment for all. It also is critical to initiat­ing changes in health-care systems that can save lives and improve health.”

"Imagine your child or a loved one being cared for by a team of professionals — physicians and nurses who trained shoulder-to-shoulder in a patient-centered curriculum."
— Ann Bonham, Ph.D.

The new school will provide comprehensive educational and research opportunities that couple academic rigor common to both nursing and medicine, with interdisciplinary educational opportunities in basic sciences, humanities, public health, business administration and information technology. It also will include a new graduate group on nursing science and health-care leadership that will be directed by a multidisciplinary team of faculty from the nursing school, medical school and other units on campus.

To build the new curriculum, Young will recruit other interprofessional leaders and will have the support and expertise of the School of Medicine faculty. Since 2006 the School of Medicine has participated in a nationwide initiative funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to train scientists who have a firm understanding of medicine so they are better equipped to conduct research that benefits the diagnosis and treatment of human disease.

School of Medicine leaders are eager to broaden these activities to include nurses and eventually other members of the health-care team, such as students enrolled in the health system’s public health master’s degree program. A collabora­tion with the California Department of Health Services and UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, the program has trained 68 physicians, nurse practitioners, veterinarians, dentists and other health professionals to manage and prevent the spread of injuries and diseases.

“Imagine your child or a loved one being cared for by a team of profession­als — physicians and nurses who trained shoulder-to-shoulder in a patient-centered curriculum,” said Ann Bonham, associate vice chancellor of academic affairs. “With the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis we have an unprecedented opportunity to provide interprofessional training of those health-care teams of the future. To me, this makes today a most exciting time to be a health-care educator at UC Davis, and we are looking for faculty, staff, future students and supporters who share our innovative vision.”