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Developing Experts and Leaders

Leadership is more than just a flashy title after your name and a big office—it’s the ability to inspire others toward a common purpose. But leadership without expertise is a false promise—a revolutionary nurse combines people-centered care and cultural competence with problem-solving skills, critical thinking, and an appetite for knowledge that goes beyond the basics. And that’s a Penn Nurse.

Julie Sochalski, PhD, RN, FAAN, Associate Professor of Nursing and Associate Dean for Academic Pr...

“As nurses, we have the responsibility of knowing how to get the best health out of health care. And we know that a broad perspective is essential. Developing leadership and developing experts—that’s how we change the trajectory of health, no matter the location.”

Julie Sochalski, PhD, RN, FAAN
Associate Professor of Nursing and Associate Dean for Academic Programs


Penn Nursing’s education program uses hands-on mentored instruction to transform what happens in the classroom to what happens in the clinical setting and beyond. Our faculty are at the forefront of science, technology, and patient care and bring their expertise to future nurse leaders. The vision for the future is to invigorate an already competitive and high caliber program, evaluate programs at all levels, and implement changes in core competencies and essentials recommended by the AACN. And it all starts with developing experts and leaders in our undergraduate and graduate nursing programs in order to meet patient needs, improve health and health outcomes, and transform health care.

The Path Forward

The nursing workforce of the future demands a bold and nimble clinician with a first-rate mind, the heart of a life-long student, and the soul of a public health advocate. A nurse committed to doing more.

Nurses Standing Outside Hospital

Our innovative curriculum and extensive use of simulation exposes students to a variety of situations that they will encounter in their clinical practice settings, facilitating deep learning and building their skills and confidence. As we enter a new era of teaching and learning, accelerated by necessity due to the recent pandemic, Penn Nursing remains committed to empowering today’s learner for tomorrow’s world by reimagining our curricula, teaching pedagogies, classrooms, and learning technologies. Goal - $15M over five years.

The Penn Nursing Learning Lab: Recent events have made an indelible mark on education, especially higher learning. An ever-changing health and health care landscape demand that we analyze and reprioritize our teaching; employing ingenuity and innovation to ensure Penn Nursing’s pedagogy remains at the forefront of the profession. The Penn Nursing Learning Lab will be a dynamic, nimble space in which all facets of nursing education are continually examined and evaluated for ongoing enhancement/modification.

Below are a few ways that investing in the Penn Nursing Learning Lab will help Penn Nursing pave the way as a leader in excellent nursing education.

  • Faculty learning opportunities: Serving as “academic entrepreneurs,” faculty will ensure we lead in developing, assessing, and integrating the most innovative and effective teaching methods. Funding is needed to create teaching residencies and innovation teaching grants will provide faculty with resources and time to transform existing course content and to develop new content.

  • New simulation technologies: Including virtual reality and augmented reality tools in our courses help give our students the professional edge they need. Gifts for simulation and learning technology directly support student learning that complements their clinical experiences in real-time.

  • Student financial aid/scholarships: The average debt load of a nursing graduate student is over $90,000 – a heavy burden on a typical nurse’s salary. Increasing financial aid/scholarships, especially at the graduate level, and non-tuition support for students is an evergreen priority.

  • Faculty Chairs (term and endowed): Term/endowed professorships are used to recruit, reward, and retain star faculty. The Dean appoints them to a distinguished faculty member/s to partially support their compensation, as well as research and other activities.

  • Aspire – Aspire is a new suite of specialized academic products and services designed by Penn Nursing for individuals and institutions who are dedicated to advancing innovation in health care. We are in need of seed funding to bolster the success of this program, as well as support infrastructure and scholarships.

To support the path forward for Penn Nursing’s giving priorities and to learn more about how you can help advance the School’s strategic plan, please contact:

Nadina R. Deigh
Vice Dean, Institutional Advancement
(215) 746-6184