Sarah Hope Kagan, PhD, RN, FAAN
When other teenagers were babysitting, Sarah Hope Kagan was helping older friends and relatives recover after an injury or illness.
Dr. Kagan still cares for older people, combining evidence and relationships to help them manage health concerns, feel better, and achieve a sense of wellness. She specializes in working with older people living with cancer, which is under-addressed in nursing despite the increasing number of older adults for whom cancer is now a chronic disease.
“By bringing together knowledge, science, professional compassion, and personal empathy, I can help make an older person’s day or life better.”
- PhD, University of California, San Francisco, 1994
- MS, University of California, San Francisco, 1989
- BS, Rush University, 1986
- AB, University of Chicago, 1984
Helping students step out of their comfort zone and imagine the myriad possibilities of a career in nursing is a key part of Dr. Kagan’s pedagogy. She directs two semester-long Penn Nursing Study Abroad programs at the University of Queensland in Australia and Oxford Brooks University in England. She teaches an intensive two-week course in comparative elder care the University of Hong Kong, open to Penn undergraduate and graduate students.
In addition to directing the capstone experience in the Benjamin Franklin Scholars in Nursing program, Dr. Kagan also teaches qualitative research methods in the doctoral program.
As a clinician educator, Dr. Kagan’s research and teaching are closely connected to her clinical practice. Her qualitative research focuses on understanding the patient perspective and experience to improve clinician knowledge and care delivery. In one project, for example, she and an undergraduate student are analyzing a large qualitative data set, which previous students helped collect, exploring the experience of patients with non-melanoma skin cancers of the head and neck treated with Mohs micro-surgery, using interpretive qualitative analysis.
Dr. Kagan uses the wisdom each patient and family share with her, in concert with her scientific knowledge and clinical expertise, in her care for other patients and families. She is a clinician educator for the Living Well Program at the Abramson Cancer Center at Pennsylvania Hospital, which provides symptom management and support to older adults with cancer. To ensure that this care is optimal, Dr. Kagan mentors and educates the Living Well Program’s team on symptom management, psychosocial oncology, geriatric oncology, and interdisciplinary teamwork. She also develops programs and consults on the care of individual patients with complex needs.
Dr. Kagan is the author of “Cancer in the Lives of Older Americans: Blessings and Battles,” which follows the story of Mrs. Eck, a woman in her 80s diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and explores what it means to be old and have cancer.
Opportunities to Learn and Collaborate at Penn Nursing
The Benjamin Franklin Scholars program fosters intellectual curiosity and exploration for outstanding undergraduate students in Penn’s four undergraduate schools: the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the Wharton School, and the School of Nursing. Dr. Kagan is program director of the Benjamin Franklin Scholars.
Selected Career Highlights
- Editor in Chief, International Journal of Older People Nursing
- Marie Hippensteel Lingeman Founders Award for Excellence in Nursing Practice ,Sigma Theta Tau International
- Honorary Doctor of Science, School of Health and Life Sciences, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, United Kingdom
- University of California San Francisco School of Nursing Centennial Wall of Fame: 100 Distinguished Faculty and Alumni
- MacArthur Fellow, Class of 2003