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BSN-PhD (Hillman Scholars)

The Hillman Scholars Program in Nursing Innovation is an accelerated integrated BSN-to-PhD program designed to produce the next generation of nurse innovators dedicated to making health care more effective, patient-centered, and equitable.

In 2010, Penn Nursing partnered with the Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation  to develop a new opportunity for scholars. Today, the school is proud to be one of only three in the country offering this unique program.

Featured Scholar

  • <span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/profiles/73-elizabeth-broden"><img src="/live/image/gid/27/width/275/height/250/crop/1/src_region/540,0,1281,742/8603_pennnursing_nov18_1836.rev.1549391954.jpg" alt="Elizabeth Broden" class="lw_image" width="275" height="250" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/27/width/275/height/250/crop/1/src_region/540,0,1281,742/8603_pennnursing_nov18_1836.rev.1549391954.jpg 2x" data-max-w="741" data-max-h="742"/></a></span> <h4><a href="/live/profiles/73-elizabeth-broden">Elizabeth Broden</a></h4><p> Elizabeth Broden‘s research focuses on nurse-family engagement and relationship-centered care during end-of-life (EOL) care in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). Her dissertation will utilize mixed methods to generate a comprehensive picture of dying children’s clinical presentation and their parents’ perceived needs during EOL care. Her long-term-goal is to conduct clinically-grounded research and develop interventions that are flexible and adaptable for PICU nurses to use in their moment-to-moment care of critically ill children and their families.</p>
  • <span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/profiles/15730-kierra-foley"><img src="/live/image/gid/27/width/275/height/250/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2400,3000/8937_DSC_9372.rev.1556378294.jpg" alt="" class="lw_image" width="275" height="250" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/27/width/275/height/250/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2400,3000/8937_DSC_9372.rev.1556378294.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/27/width/275/height/250/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2400,3000/8937_DSC_9372.rev.1556378294.jpg 3x" data-max-w="2400" data-max-h="3000"/></a></span> <h4><a href="/live/profiles/15730-kierra-foley">Kierra Foley</a></h4><p> Kierra Foley is a first-year PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania. Her current research interests focus on the health and wellness of sexual and gender minority elders. She is interested in how access to housing impacts this population’s health.</p>
  • <span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/profiles/15441-jessie-axsom"><img src="/live/image/gid/27/width/275/height/250/crop/1/src_region/511,0,1245,735/8598_pennnursing_nov18_1039.rev.1549390102.jpg" alt="Jessie Axsom" class="lw_image" width="275" height="250" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/27/width/275/height/250/crop/1/src_region/511,0,1245,735/8598_pennnursing_nov18_1039.rev.1549390102.jpg 2x" data-max-w="734" data-max-h="735"/></a></span> <h4><a href="/live/profiles/15441-jessie-axsom">Jessie Axsom</a></h4><p> Jessie Axsom is a second-year Accelerated BSN-PhD student. Her research interests are exercise-induced epigenetic changes and how this impacts cardiometabolic disease risk and prevention. She is clinically interested in working with older adults with cardiometabolic multimorbidities and incorporating trauma informed care and harm reduction practices into nursing.</p>
  • <span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/profiles/15716-erin-kennedy"><img src="/live/image/gid/27/width/275/height/250/crop/1/src_region/532,0,1263,731/8601_pennnursing_nov18_0661.rev.1549390677.jpg" alt="" class="lw_image" width="275" height="250" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/27/width/275/height/250/crop/1/src_region/532,0,1263,731/8601_pennnursing_nov18_0661.rev.1549390677.jpg 2x" data-max-w="731" data-max-h="731"/></a></span> <h4><a href="/live/profiles/15716-erin-kennedy">Erin Kennedy</a></h4><p> Erin Kennedy is a second-year PhD student. Her dissertation will explore the effects of clinical decision support for discharge planning on post-acute care outcomes for older adults and examine barriers to optimal post-acute care destinations using natural language processing methods. She currently assists the informatics team at Penn Medicine and has experience as a research assistant for clinical decision support and child passenger safety studies at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Erin is a predoctoral fellow at the New Courtland Center for Transitions and Health and was the recipient of the Mary Naylor Award for Undergraduate Research in 2019.</p>
  • <span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/profiles/16089-nina-juntereal"><img src="/live/image/gid/27/width/275/height/250/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2089,2429/9558_Juntereal_Nina_Headshot.rev.1562347756.jpg" alt="" class="lw_image" width="275" height="250" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/27/width/275/height/250/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2089,2429/9558_Juntereal_Nina_Headshot.rev.1562347756.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/27/width/275/height/250/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2089,2429/9558_Juntereal_Nina_Headshot.rev.1562347756.jpg 3x" data-max-w="2089" data-max-h="2429"/></a></span> <h4><a href="/live/profiles/16089-nina-juntereal">Nina Juntereal</a></h4><p> Nina Juntereal is a first-year doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. Her research interests involve the childbearing family and lactation care for vulnerable families. She is excited to be developing a project centered on Design Thinking and to apply this innovative framework to her research. She has conducted an integrative review on antenatal expression of colostrum, an intervention entailing the promotion of colostrum via hand expression during pregnancy, and is planning to conduct future projects on this phenomenon to better assist vulnerable populations in their milk supply concerns so to achieve optimal breastfeeding outcomes.</p>
  • <span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/profiles/16090-anthony-a-scarpone-lambert"><img src="/live/image/gid/27/width/275/height/250/crop/1/src_region/0,0,857,1165/9559_AnthonyScarone-Lambert-Headshot.rev.1562604952.jpg" alt="" class="lw_image" width="275" height="250" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/27/width/275/height/250/crop/1/src_region/0,0,857,1165/9559_AnthonyScarone-Lambert-Headshot.rev.1562604952.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/27/width/275/height/250/crop/1/src_region/0,0,857,1165/9559_AnthonyScarone-Lambert-Headshot.rev.1562604952.jpg 3x" data-max-w="857" data-max-h="1165"/></a></span> <h4><a href="/live/profiles/16090-anthony-a-scarpone-lambert">Anthony A. Scarpone-Lambert</a></h4><p> Anthony Scarpone-Lambert is an incoming senior at the University of Pennsylvania who has been a part of the Hillman Scholars Program since Fall 2019. He is the Co-Founder of Text-9</p>
  • <span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/profiles/15442-stacey-bevan"><img src="/live/image/gid/27/width/275/height/250/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2400,3000/8897_DSC_9281.rev.1555597822.jpg" alt="Stacey Bevan" class="lw_image" width="275" height="250" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/27/width/275/height/250/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2400,3000/8897_DSC_9281.rev.1555597822.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/27/width/275/height/250/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2400,3000/8897_DSC_9281.rev.1555597822.jpg 3x" data-max-w="2400" data-max-h="3000"/></a></span> <h4><a href="/live/profiles/15442-stacey-bevan">Stacey Bevan</a></h4><p> Stacey Bevan is a PhD student at Penn Nursing earning a dual degree in Statistics from the Wharton School. She earned a BS in Biology and International Relations from Tufts University. Her research focuses on the early identification of neurodevelopmental differences in childhood, especially Autism Spectrum Disorder, from a sociological and health disparities framework. She uses an interdisciplinary approach to study young children over time in local and international settings, including Central America and China. In Philadelphia, Stacey is a practicing nurse in pediatric psychiatry. She collaborates in research and clinical projects at Penn, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and community partners on nursing interventions that promote wellness for children and their families. She enjoys lecturing on child psychology, global health, and historical contexts of nursing practice. Stacey is a Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics Associate Fellow, Hillman Scholar of Nursing Innovation and member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.</p>
  • <span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/profiles/84-eileen-french"><img src="/live/image/gid/27/width/275/height/250/crop/1/src_region/507,0,1285,778/8610_pennnursing_nov18_0900.rev.1549392703.jpg" alt="" class="lw_image" width="275" height="250" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/27/width/275/height/250/crop/1/src_region/507,0,1285,778/8610_pennnursing_nov18_0900.rev.1549392703.jpg 2x" data-max-w="778" data-max-h="778"/></a></span> <h4><a href="/live/profiles/84-eileen-french">Eileen French</a></h4><p> Eileen French is passionate about supporting adolescent and young adult athletes through identifying risk factors for problem behaviors using secondary analyses of large databases. Hailing from the Chicagoland area, Eileen grew up playing sports and continues to be a life-long athlete participating in local, national and international Ultimate Frisbee competitions. Her education background includes degrees from Yale University (BA in History of Medicine) and University of Pennsylvania (BSN and MS). Eileen works clinically in the fields of Neurology and Neurosurgery as an adult inpatient RN.</p>
  • <span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/profiles/15443-marguerite-daus"><img src="/live/image/gid/27/width/275/height/250/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2400,3000/8941_DSC_9434.rev.1556562496.jpg" alt="Marguerite Daus" class="lw_image" width="275" height="250" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/27/width/275/height/250/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2400,3000/8941_DSC_9434.rev.1556562496.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/27/width/275/height/250/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2400,3000/8941_DSC_9434.rev.1556562496.jpg 3x" data-max-w="2400" data-max-h="3000"/></a></span> <h4><a href="/live/profiles/15443-marguerite-daus">Marguerite Daus</a></h4><p> Marguerite Daus is a third-year PhD student. Her research interests include the optimization of healthcare transitions, specifically from hospital to home, in high-needs, high-risk patients. She looks to study transitional episodes from both the ambulatory and hospital settings to see what changes in the workforce could promote smoother, more efficient transitions for patients with disparities. Her dissertation is focused on the association between hospitals nurse work environments and disparities in Hispanic surgical patients’ readmissions.</p>
  • <span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/profiles/14609-amy-elizabeth-barrera-cancedda"><img src="/live/image/gid/27/width/275/height/250/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2400,3000/8911_DSC_9444.rev.1556122963.jpg" alt="Amy Elizabeth Barrera-Cancedda" class="lw_image" width="275" height="250" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/27/width/275/height/250/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2400,3000/8911_DSC_9444.rev.1556122963.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/27/width/275/height/250/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2400,3000/8911_DSC_9444.rev.1556122963.jpg 3x" data-max-w="2400" data-max-h="3000"/></a></span> <h4><a href="/live/profiles/14609-amy-elizabeth-barrera-cancedda">Amy Elizabeth Barrera-Cancedda</a></h4><p> Amy Elizabeth (E-Beth) Barrera-Cancedda is interested in how implementation science can be best used for nurse preparedness for hemorrhagic fever epidemics in Sierra Leone.</p>
  • <span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/profiles/87-matthew-lee"><img src="/live/image/gid/27/width/275/height/250/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2400,3000/8907_DSC_9390.rev.1555948447.jpg" alt="" class="lw_image" width="275" height="250" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/27/width/275/height/250/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2400,3000/8907_DSC_9390.rev.1555948447.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/27/width/275/height/250/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2400,3000/8907_DSC_9390.rev.1555948447.jpg 3x" data-max-w="2400" data-max-h="3000"/></a></span> <h4><a href="/live/profiles/87-matthew-lee">Matthew Lee</a></h4><p> Matthew Lee is a fourth-year PhD candidate who works at the intersection of healthcare and technology. His dissertation explores how participation and engagement with virtual communities impacts continued involvement with and degree of benefit from digital interventions. His research interest lies in patient work, an area he explores in collaboration with colleagues at the Australian Institute of Health Innovation. In addition, he serves as the Chair of Serious Games for the International Game Developers Association, has been involved with the creation of several training modules for healthcare professionals, including the PTSD Toolkit for Nurses, and is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.</p>

The Hillman Experience

The Hillman Scholars In Nursing Innovation program is comprised of several distinctive components.

Together, they create a unique academic experience that launches purpose-driven research careers and fosters leaders committed to health care transformation.

Key Program Components

An Accelerated, Integrated BSN-to-PhD Curriculum

A Hillman Scholar is both a BSN and PhD student at the same time and therefore can take graduate courses while still completing a BSN. Scholars seamlessly continue into graduate coursework, enabling them to skip the Master’s degree and complete the PhD in three years.

Undergraduate Research Immersion

Scholars link scientific inquiry with real-world innovation by joining research teams that are identifying solutions to challenges in clinical care. Through this experience, they learn how new models of care are tested and observe PhD-prepared nurse scientists in action.

Structured Mentoring

Hillman Scholars beginning in their undergraduate programs and extending through the completion of the PhD are mentored by dedicated senior faculty from nursing and other disciplines who have successful and impactful programs of research, and records of leadership and innovations in care. These relationships provide a unique level of interdisciplinary support for scholars’ professional growth.

Clinical Fellowship

The Hillman program offers an optional clinical immersion fellowship for scholars who want to advance their nursing practice expertise after they earn their nursing license. These unique six-month clinical immersions offer new nurses the opportunity to become members of the professional staff in top-ranked clinical institutions where they care for individual patients and learn first-hand about care delivery. The experience exposes Scholars to real-life health care delivery and shapes how they think about and develop new innovations in care.

The Hillman Community

Hillman Scholars join a vibrant community of peers and faculty committed to their collective development. Scholars at different sites connect in-person at annual meetings (held in conjunction with AcademyHealth, the national interdisciplinary organization that promotes health care improvement) and virtually, through cross-site webinars and other digital platforms. Scholars can access research and travel funds to further their development as nurse innovators. An alumni network helps sustain these professional and personal connections, even after graduation.

Bi-Weekly Scholars’ Seminars

These multi-disciplinary seminars focus on innovation and feature lively, Scholar-led discussions, visits from thought leaders and scientists, and ongoing engagement with peers and faculty. Seminars occur every other week.

Hillman Scholars in Nursing Innovation Doctoral Student Handbook Addendum

Click here to read the Doctoral Student Handbook Addendum put together for the Hillman Scholars in Nursing Innovation Program. There is valuable information in this addendum. All Hillman Scholars are required to know and abide by the state policies in the University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing BSN Handbook, and PhD handbook.

Hillman Scholars News

  • Penn Hillman Scholar Investigates the Autism Phenotype in Preschool-aged Children in China

    Stacey L Bevan, BS, BSN, RN, is a second-year PhD student writing a mixed-methods dissertation on sociocultural perspectives of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis in pediatric immigrant communities. Stacey was awarded an interdisciplinary grant from the Hillman Scholars Foundation to support her project with the China Jintan Child Cohort study. This grant helped her contextualize the results of her secondary analysis of ASD phenotype in this population-based cohort and plan for dissemination according to Community Based Participatory Research methods. While this project was planned during a complicated time in global health and politics, she was able to appreciate several themes of the work, including recognizing the international platform, engaging with the historical paradigm and developing flexibility in fieldwork.


The Hillman Scholars Program in Nursing Innovation is open to current traditional BSN students in their sophomore or junior year as well as incoming accelerated BSN (ABSN) students . Incoming ABSN students apply to the ABSN program and the Hillman Scholars Program at the same time and can be offered admission to the ABSN program as well as the Hillman Scholars Program, or just the ABSN program alone. 

Applicants to the Program must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States.

If accepted into the Program, Hillman Scholars must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or above. 

How to apply

To be eligible for the Hillman Scholars Program in Nursing Innovation, you must be either a current Penn Nursing BSN student in your sophomore or junior year, or admitted through our Accelerated BSN program.

For details on our application process, see the Admissions section .