The Rio Grande bosque with the Sandia Mountains in the background
By Kayleen Schenk

UNM Health Sciences professor receives fellowship that will aid sex education research for New Mexico’s youth

University of New Mexico College of Nursing assistant professor Elizabeth Dickson, PhD, RN, has been awarded the 2023 Betty Irene Moore Fellowship for Leaders and Innovators from the University of California, Davis and intends to use the research funds and leadership training to implement an interdisciplinary approach to improving sexual health education in New Mexico.

The Betty Irene Moore Fellowship for Nurse Leaders and Innovators is a national program that offers cohorts of PhD-prepared nurses career advancing professional development and funding for research in clinical practice, education, policy and entrepreneurship. The 2023 cohort is the largest to date, with all 16 members affiliated with a university and/or health system. 

Dickson has earned her place amongst the diverse group in many ways. First, her collaborative pursuits with nursing and population health for clinical work and research has given her a fresh perspective on adolescent health.


Elizabeth Dickson, PhD, RN
Those of us in public health are a small percentage of the nursing workforce, so, using the unique perspective to improve policies around access to sexual health education is a tremendous opportunity
Elizabeth Dickson, PhD, RN

“Those of us in public health are a small percentage of the nursing workforce,” Dickson says. “So, using the unique perspective to improve policies around access to sexual health education is a tremendous opportunity.”

Second is her goal of centering youth voices in the conversations to reimagine the structures that shape their education. This effort includes all of New Mexico’s youth, including those who belong to communities minoritized based on race, ethnicity or LGBTQ+ identities.  

Dickson says, “The best solutions always come from the people who are most impacted by the problem. It’s time that we pass the mic.”

Third is her commitment to New Mexico. “My work is rooted here,” she says. “And I stated it proudly when I interviewed for the fellowship.”

The fellowship’s leadership development is taught through the UC Davis Graduate School of Management. Dickson intends to leverage this training to continue advocating for strengthened state policy supporting access to sexual health education and services in New Mexico.

“The change can happen if the adults in the room listen to what young people need; what they want to change,” she concludes.

The 2023 cohort’s members hail from around the entire country: University of North Carolina, Greensboro, University of Pittsburgh, University of Alabama, the University of Hawaii and several more institutions can proudly join UNM as schools with Betty Irene Moore Nursing Fellows among their faculty. Dickson’s cohort’s research spans from transforming maternity care and improving health outcomes for those experiencing homelessness, to the study of sleep disorders and cancer pain management. Through her research Dickson hopes to create groundwork for improving access to crucial education for New Mexico’s youth, efforts that underscore the value of her selection as a fellow for the Betty Irene Moore Nursing Fellowship for Nurse Leaders and Innovators.

Categories: College of Nursing, Community Engagement, Education, Research