End-of-Life Care – from Personal to Policy

Leah Morris

Leah Morris

Field: Nursing

Graduation year: 2013

Hometown: Ridgefield, Conn.

Although she is a nurse, Leah Morris was at a loss when her mother’s grave illness escalated. She and her father felt unprepared for her dying process. It was then that Morris decided to refocus her administrative career and serve as a hospice provider.

“I realized I had lost the clinical connection to any one patient as well as the depth of care, skill or understanding needed,” says Morris. She started the nurse practitioner program at UC Davis one month after her mother died.

Although Morris was taking a new clinical path, she was still passionate about public-health policy. This guided her to the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing Master of Science — Leadership program, where she became the first student to simultaneously complete both degrees.

“The faculty at the School of Nursing mentored and encouraged me with extraordinary clarity, support and direction,” Morris notes. “My research is in an area I had personal experience with - training family members to care for an end-of-life hospice patient.”

Morris’ thesis chair Assistant Professor Jann Murray-Garcia was a major influence. “Murray-Garcia is a creative thinker, knowledgeable writer, thoughtful clinician, and she shared the experience of being recently bereaved with the loss of a parent.”

Morris now works in both worlds – as a nurse practitioner for Yolo Hospice and as a health-policy expert for the California Health Benefit Exchange. “UC Davis was the ‘one’ for me due to the unique programs. This education has helped me to fulfill my goal and continue to pursue my passion.”