Nakia Best received her PhD from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2018 and joined UCI Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing as an Assistant Professor in July 2019. Professor Best’s research interests include informatics, information technology, and school health.

How did you get into the nursing field, and what made you want to pursue a PhD in nursing?

I’ve always loved science classes, so during my junior year in high school my parents asked me what I thought about majoring in nursing. During senior year, I took an intro course that introduced me to different health fields and I was hooked. After I graduated high school, I was accepted into Winston-Salem State University as a pre-nursing major. After receiving my MSN in Nursing Education, I was clinical faculty at UNC Chapel Hill. I loved teaching in the undergraduate nursing program. During an evaluation, my department chair asked me what I thought about going back to school for my PhD. At first, I wasn’t too keen on going back to school, but she connected me with two tenured professors. I worked in their lab and helped collect data for their studies and I was hooked! Two years later I was a first year PhD student.

What do you like about nursing: clinical, research, teaching?

I love all of the opportunities: conducting research on topics I am passionate about, including advocating for school nurses in every school. I love being a nurse. It is an honor to be able to share my knowledge and passion for nursing with students.

What drew you to UC Irvine’s School of Nursing? 

Dean Nyamathi’s vision for the School of Nursing (including health promotion, integrative health, informatics). Everyone was helpful, welcoming, and collegial. I also was extremely impressed by the accomplished faculty and types of resources available to support faculty success.

What are you most excited about, as you start your job here at UC Irvine School of Nursing? What would you like to accomplish at UCI?

I am excited to collaborate with SON colleagues. I look forward to increasing my impact in school nursing/school health, including publications and external research funding.

Is there anything I haven’t asked you about that you’d like to share about yourself with the SON community?

I ran the Richmond Marathon in 2017.