UC Davis Today: Educating nurse practitioners and physician assistants

Doctor in Army fatigues with two feamle physician assistant students; nursing leadership

Educating nurse practitioners and physician assistants

Already, a majority of UC Davis nurse practitioner and physician assistant graduates go on to work as primary-care providers in underserved areas. With the goal of increasing these rates, UC Davis will offer master’s degrees beginning with classes that enroll this summer.

Over the past 40 years, UC Davis’ family nurse practitioner and physician assistant program had 1,800 graduates, with 67 percent of them working in rural and other areas lacking health-care resources. Additionally, nearly 70 percent of graduates work in primary care, compared with much lower national averages of between 30 percent and 40 percent.

By offering a Master of Science in Nursing Science and Health-Leadership and a Master of Health Services in Nursing Science and Health-Care Leadership, the two programs will better compete with other institutions and also meet expected future accreditation requirements.

The move to master’s degree programs does not dramatically impact program length. However, the curriculum will change drastically to provide the necessary skills and training. This includes a transition of the program from the UC Davis School of Medicine to the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.

According to Heather M. Young, associate vice chancellor and founding dean of the nursing school, the move enables the program to be part of the Nursing Science and Health-Care Leadership Graduate Degree Program, an interprofessional graduate program led by more than 40 faculty from nursing, medicine, nutrition, statistics, pharmacy and public health.

The new curriculum offers a broad education that includes advanced skills in understanding complex problems and generating solutions, understanding how health systems and health care works and how to improve quality, lead teams and deal with the business aspects of care.

From left, Zane Atkins, an assistant clinical professor in the UC Davis School of Medicine Department of Surgery, talks with physician assistant students Jeweleeh Tieu and Emily Boriack about cardiac techniques as they examine a chest image. Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis photo

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