Xandr Universal Pixel


Theresa Pak

Inpatient Unit Director, Nurse Manager, UC Davis Health

For the past three decades, nurse manager Theresa Pak has built her career and reputation at UC Davis Health on equity-minded nursing and ensuring that compassion for patients remains core to the work of nursing. She leads with an unwavering focus on supporting her patients and her various teams that facilitate RBC and DEI, including Re-Igniting the Spirit of Caring, See Me As A Person (SMAAP) and Leading An Empowered Organization (LEO). Shaped by her experiences as a nurse during the HIV/AIDS epidemic and taking care of her sister in hospice, Theresa demonstrates that change in nursing takes not just bold leaders who step outside of the box, but leaders who recognize the importance of preserving patients’ humanity.


A nurse that is conscious about equity will attune and adapt for the benefit of the nurse, because the goal is for them to succeed.

Theresa Pak, RN, MS, NEA, BC


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Theresa Pak, known affectionately by her colleagues as “Tpak,” credits her upbringing as an immigrant with the lens through which she grew up seeing the unseen and hearing the unspoken. As an ICU Nurse Manager at UC Davis Health, Theresa has led her units through several transitions that have transformed patient care.

As a nurse manager, Theresa leads with an empathetic and unwavering focus on supporting her patients, leading Relationship-based Care (RBC) through various programs that center the care of individuals, colleagues, patients, and families. Program participants learn important relational and caring skills that uplift and maintain the dignity of human beings.

This empathetic approach, however, is deeply personal. The daughter of Korean immigrants, Theresa started as pre-med in college and volunteered with nurses in San Francisco who traveled to the city’s underserved areas to teach how to clean IV needles. This inspired her pivot to nursing, beginning her career during one of the earliest health crises of our time: the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The isolation and ostracism of people living with HIV when medicine wasn’t available tugged at her heartstrings, yet some nurses fearlessly defied the conventions of care to treat patients with compassion. The humanity of those patients became lost to many others in the rush of providing care, the fear of a misunderstood disease, and sociopolitical turmoil.

More than 20 years into her career, her younger sister entered hospice after living with a chronic illness for years. It was in that experience that she realized all her skills, knowledge and expertise was for the most important patient of her life: her sister. 

Theresa credits the Betty Irene Davis School of Nursing and Dr. Jann Murray Garcia’s mentorship as the driving force behind her desire to make incremental, yet impactful, change in nursing. At UC Davis Health, she serves as a Strategist for the hospital’s Relationship-Based Culture (RBC) anchor program, Re-Igniting the Spirit of Caring. This program is a three-day workshop where all disciplines within the organization can connect, engage and bond while addressing the very real issues plaguing the nursing workforce. Beyond the RBC, she has co-facilitated numerous DEI workshops and other programs, including See Me As A Person (SMAAP) and Leading An Empowered Organization (LEO). With more than 30 years of nursing experience ranging from the ER to the ICU, Theresa knows what it takes to provide compassionate care.

These links are not endorsed by SHIFT and the views expressed within are their own.