UC Davis' nursing school is offering two new master's degree programs this summer for nurse practitioners and physician assistants, with an eye toward bolstering primary care in rural and underserved communities.

The two-year nurse practitioner program and a 27-month master's degree program through the university's Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing hope to groom leaders of health care teams to provide care where it's needed most, Heather Young, the school's dean, said in a statement.

"The new curriculum offers a broad education in understanding how health systems and health care work as well as how to improve quality, lead teams and deal with the business aspects of care," Young said in the statement.

For decades, the programs formerly offered by the UC Davis School of Medicine have served as pipelines for health care in underserved areas.

More than 1,800 physician assistants and nurse practitioners graduated from the programs in the last 40 years, say university officials. Two-thirds of those went on to work in underserved areas.

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