Claire M. Fagin Leadership Professor in Nursing
Chair, Department of Biobehavioral Health Sciences

Promoting dignity, minimizing symptoms, and honoring peoples preferences for care at the end of life — the goals of palliative care — are all challenging when caring for people with dementia. Nationally recognized nurse scientist Nancy A. Hodgson focuses on incorporating evidence-based findings into geriatric nursing practice to conquer these challenges and advance palliative dementia care.


Dr. Hodgson is the co-founder of the Palliative Care Program at the Madlyn and Leonard Abramson Center (formerly the Philadelphia Geriatric Center) — one of the first nursing-home based palliative care programs in the nation. Launched in 2002, the interdisciplinary program trained a core group of staff to help residents live as independently as possible with good quality of life, while treating their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.  

Since then, the Palliative Care Program has served thousands of people at the center and become a national model. With funding from the North Penn Community Health Foundation and the Farber Family Foundation, Dr. Hodgson and colleagues trained staff at other nursing homes in Pennsylvania. Dr. Hodgson has also provided technical assistance on implementing the model to colleagues nationwide. In 2004, the Palliative Care Program received an Honorable Mention in the Archstone Foundation and American Public Health Association Award for Excellence in Program Innovation.

“Dignity becomes fragile as dementia progress. My work focuses on ways to provide palliative dementia care that honors and respects each person.”


  • PhD , University of Pennsylvania , 1999
  • MSN, University of Pennsylvania , 1988
  • BSN, Widener University , 1984