Cynthia A Connolly, PhD, RN, PNP, FAAN
Associate Professor of Nursing

Contact Information
University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
Room 2017 Fagin Hall
418 Curie Blvd.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-4217
tel: (215) 746-5478

Dr. Connolly is an associate professor of nursing. She was awarded a PhD in 1999 and a Bachelors degree in 1980 from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and received a Masters degree in Primary Care and School Health from the University of Rochester in 1987. In 2001, she completed the post-masters program in Pediatric Acute/Chronic Care at Penn. Dr. Connolly also undertook two years of postdoctoral training at Columbia University’s Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health’s History of Public Health and Medicine Program. Her postdoctoral training was enhanced by a fellowship on Capitol Hill in the office of Senator Paul Wellstone [D-Minn]. Dr. Connolly also serves as Co-Faculty Director and Penn’s Field Center for Children’s Policy, Practice, and Research. Additionally, she holds a secondary appointment in the History and Sociology of Science department and is a Fellow at the Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Program and The Alice Paul Center for Research on Gender, Sexuality, and Women.

Dr. Connolly has more than thirty years of experience teaching pediatric nursing across settings and ages, from infants through adolescents. Her many years of clinical practice in outpatient and inpatient acute and chronic care settings with children of all ages informs her approach to teaching as does her scholarship on the historical and political context in which children’s health and social welfare policy is generated. Her Nursing 324 Benjamin Franklin Scholars undergraduate course, Children’s Health in the United States, 1800-2000, is cross-listed in Gender, Culture, and Society as well as Health and Societies. She also serves as Co-Course Director for N103, Psychological and Social Diversity, wherein she contributes content with regard to children and families.

Dr. Connolly’s research analyzes the forces that have shaped children’s health care delivery and family policy in the United States. Her current study will provide a historical overview and critique of children and pharmaceuticals (therapeutic medicinal chemistry) in the United States from World War II to the present day. This research, supported by an Investigator Award in Health Policy Research from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, addresses four major health policy issues: how beliefs about children and their place in American society informed policy debates surrounding pharmaceuticals for children; how stakeholders have responded to debates about use, testing, advertising, and regulation of pharmaceuticals for children; how ideas about children’s best interests shifted over time and shaped health policy; and how politics and legislative and regulatory choices led to reforms with both intended and unintended consequences. Her research should help expand our understanding of the costs, benefits, risks, coverage, and access issues associated with children’s pharmaceuticals.

Dr. Connolly’s award-winning first book, Saving Sickly Children: The Tuberculosis Preventorium in American Life, 1909–1970, analyzed an early twentieth century child-focused intervention, the preventorium. This unique facility was intended to prevent tuberculosis (TB) in indigent children from families labeled irresponsible or at risk for developing the disease. Yet, it also held deeply embedded assumptions about class, race, and ethnicity. Saving Sickly Children was supported by numerous research grants, including a Scholarly Award in Biomedicine and Health from the National Library of Medicine.

• Currently Funded Grants

• Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing

Clinical Practice
Dr. Connolly has worked as both a pediatric nurse practitioner and clinical nurse specialist. She has practiced in both outpatient and inpatient acute and chronic settings with children of all ages.


• Honors/Awards Details »

Publications (select year)
2016  | 2015  | 2014  | 2013  | 2012  | 2011  | 2010  | 2009  | 2008  | 2007  | 2006  |
2005  | 2004  | 2003  | 2002  | 2001  | 2000  | 1999  | 1998  | 1997 and Prior  |
In Press  | More Publications 

I wanted to be a pediatric nurse from as far back as I can remember and feel fortunate to have been able to fulfill that dream. Many times over the course of my clinical career I found myself wondering about ways to improve health care and society for the future. For me, studying the intellectual foundations of nursing and of health care provides the ideal tools for use in generating the health and social welfare policies that will best serve children and families today and in the future.