DEI: For Dr. Davis, community is key

Precious Davis, EdD

Precious Davis, EdD

Precious Davis, EdD, an Omaha native, left high school at 16.

Today, she is the director of the UNMC College of Medicine’s Community Collaborative Academy and an assistant professor in the UNMC Department of Family Medicine.

“Follow your dreams, follow your heart,” Dr. Davis said when asked about her journey. “Don’t doubt yourself.”

Dr. Davis, who describes herself as “a nurse first,” started her medical center career as a certified nurse assistant at Clarkson Hospital 21 years ago. She mentions two keys to her success:

  • A belatedly discovered love of learning. “I got my GED. I started on my college track, and I got my first degree. I thought, ‘Well, let’s go to the next degree.’ Then I thought, ‘Let’s go all the way.’ It was a personal goal and challenge for me, after not liking education and dropping out of high school, to show myself that I could do that.”
  • Many supportive mentors at UNMC and Nebraska Medicine, especially over the past eight years. “I credit Dr. Nada Fadul, Dr. Jasmine Marcelin, Dr. Marcia Shade, Dr. Shirley Delair, Dr. Sheritta Strong, for pulling me along. I was going to stay in my clinic and work as a nurse. But if you dream big and find colleagues who will push you, who will pull out your strengths, you can in turn walk in your leadership, because I believe we’re all leaders.”

As the inaugural UNMC Community Collaborative Academy, Dr. Davis helped spearhead this falls Community Engagement Day (CED) for M1 students. The mission of the academy is to engage community partners to directly educate medical students who will be caring for the populations and communities they serve. During the CED, M1 students go out and visit with community partners and learn on site, at times with direct testimony from clients, about the support the organizations provide and how they help address health disparities, the challenges and barriers their clients face.

“Every medical student should understand what they face in caring for our populations and our communities from actually going into the community and hearing directly from community partners,” Dr. Davis said.

The October event received positive feedback from both students and community partners.

“Simply going into the community and observing our community firsthand, instead of simply talking about it, is what made this event successful,” one student said.

“I enjoyed getting to connect with organizations outside of UNMC. So much of our education revolves around the UNMC campus. Having the opportunity to expand beyond the campus and interact with leaders who are actively plugged in and making differences in the lives of Omaha residents was an experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life as a person and physician,” another student said.

Dr. Davis has been involved in community engagement activities for medical students since 2019. Most recently she has been a health equity educator for the UNMC Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes collaborative (ECHO) in the UNMC Division of Infectious Diseases.

“I was able to give input and feedback, sit in on some brainstorming meetings and discussions regarding the health inequities and disparities seen in the community and among my patient populations,” she said.

When the academy was created, Dr. Davis was finishing her doctoral degree in health care education and leadership. Being named the director was a match made in heaven, she said. As an Omaha native, Dr. Davis’ experience in the community is key in building and maintaining relationships with UNMC’s community partners.

Dr. Davis is proud to be part of UNMC and Nebraska Medicine and to help the organizations reach their goals of incorporating community engagement into medical school training.

“Don’t stop believing. Work hard. This organization allows for you to move and pivot and grow — for me, to dream beyond what I ever thought or imagined. And that’s with the help of great mentors along the way.”

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