Tam H. Nguyen, an associate professor in the Connell School of Nursing, is one of 12 nurse scientists accepted to the third cohort of the Betty Irene Moore Fellowship for Nurse Leaders and Innovators.

This fellowship program, based at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at University of California-Davis and funded by a $37.5 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, recognizes early- to mid-career nursing scholars and innovators with a high potential to accelerate leadership in nursing research, practice, education, policy, and entrepreneurship.

As part of the three-year fellowship program, fellows receive $450,000 to conduct an innovative project or study with the potential to address a gap in knowledge, meet a vital need, alter care delivery, or design a new solution to advance health.

Tam Nguyen

Tam Nguyen (Photo by Caitlin Cunningham)

Nguyen’s project focuses on changing the paradigm of diabetes prevention among Vietnamese Americans. Many Southeast Asian Americans, including Vietnamese Americans, develop diabetes and pre-diabetes at lower body mass indexes. Nguyen’s project aims to test the scientific premise that exercise, rather than weight loss, is the dominant mechanism through which diabetes is prevented in this group.

Findings from this project may help challenge Medicare’s diabetes prevention reimbursement policies, which requires providers to demonstrate that their patients engage in at least 150 minutes of exercise per week, and can sustain an average weight loss of five to seven percent across one year. These current guidelines disincentivize participation among many Southeast Asian Americans because they do not have much weight to lose to start with, and further adds to the burden of diabetes in this underserved and understudied population.

Additionally, this project will expand the approach to diabetes prevention from an individual behavior change orientation towards broader social determinants of health orientation in response to growing recognition that factors beyond the individual play important roles in affecting health outcomes.

“We are thrilled that Dr. Nguyen was selected for this competitive fellowship program,” said CSON Dean Katherine Gregory. “Her research goals and career trajectory are well aligned with the fellowship’s mission of improving population health and advancing the field of nursing.”

In addition to the project, the fellowship program features a hybrid online and classroom curriculum designed and taught in partnership with the UC-Davis Graduate School of Management to enhance leadership and innovation capacity, strengthen strategic thinking and collaborative skills, expand professional networks, develop entrepreneurial skills, and propel innovative ideas to fruition. A mentor selected by the fellow and an additional mentor provided by the national program office round out the educational experience.

“Our fellows undertake a unique journey in which they get to explore and better understand their roles as leaders and how they can influence health systems to include more equitable and higher quality care for all the populations they serve,” said Heather M. Young, professor and dean emerita of the school, who now serves as national program director for the fellowship. “This next generation of nursing leaders has great potential to have a nationwide impact on health equity and health care delivery.”

The fellowship program is made possible by Betty Irene Moore’s passion to advance nursing with the goal of better outcomes for individuals, families, and communities. The foundation seeks to prepare nurses as collaborative leaders with the skills and confidence to inspire others, enact change, and challenge the status quo. With the creation of the Betty Irene Moore Fellowship for Nurse Leaders and Innovators, the foundation supports nurse leaders who take ideas to scale that advance high-quality, high-value care and optimal health outcomes.

University Communications | May 2022