Professor of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
Professor of Sociology, School of Arts & Sciences
Founding Director, Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research

Nurses hold the key to providing safer, more effective care—and achieving better outcomes for patients.

Linda Aiken’s pioneering research has created an evidence base showing the importance of nurses caring for fewer patients each, having most nurses with bachelor’s or higher qualifications, and improving nurse work environments. Dr. Aiken documented that 30-day mortality after common surgical procedures increased by 7 percent for each additional patient added to a nurse’s workload, and that for each 10 percent increase in nurses with BSN degrees, there was a 5 to 7 percent decline in risk-adjusted mortality She has also demonstrated that organizations that support professional nursing practice by involving nurses in decision-making have better patient outcomes than matched organizations with poor work environments.

Impact on Practice and Policy    

Dr. Aiken has received the major research awards in her field of health services and policy research. In 2014, she received the Gustav O. Lienhard Award from the National Academy of Medicine for her research, which has impacted practice and policy in the United States and abroad.   She has received the top awards in health services research, including the Distinguished Investigator Award from AcademyHealth and the Baxter Graham Health Services Research Prize from the Association of University Programs in Health Administration.  Dr. Aiken was an Inaugural Awardee in the Sigma Theta Tau International Nurse Researcher’s Hall of Fame.

The focus of my research is to determine how the organizational context of healthcare can be modified to promote improved patient outcomes.


  • PhD, University of Texas at Austin, 1973 
  • MN, University of Florida, 1966 
  • BSN, University of Florida, 1964