A world-class city filled with art and culture and an incredible campus that offers cutting edge resources–that’s what students receive at Penn Nursing. And that’s just the start. Penn Nursing and the wider university offer something for everyone, as well as a lifelong community.

Penn Nursing is globally known for educating dynamic nurses—because our School values evidence-based science and health equity. That’s where our expertise lies, whether in research, practice, community health, or beyond. Everything we do upholds a through-line of innovation, encouraging our exceptional students, alumni, and faculty share their knowledge and skills to reshape health care.

Penn Nursing students are bold and unafraid, ready to embrace any challenge that comes their way. Whether you are exploring a career in nursing or interested in advancing your nursing career, a Penn Nursing education will help you meet your goals and become an innovative leader, prepared to change the face of health and wellness.

Penn Nursing is the #1-ranked nursing school in the world. Its highly-ranked programs help develop highly-skilled leaders in health care who are prepared to work alongside communities to tackle issues of health equity and social justice to improve health and wellness for everyone.

Penn Nursing’s rigorous academic curricula are taught by world renowned experts, ensuring that students at every level receive an exceptional Ivy League education. From augmented reality classrooms and clinical simulations to coursework that includes experiential global travel to clinical placements in top notch facilities, a Penn Nursing education prepares our graduates to lead.

Matthew D. McHugh, PhD, to Receive the 17th Claire M. Fagin Distinguished Researcher Award

The biennial award honors the best scholarly qualities that Dr. Fagin, the School’s third Dean, exemplified. It is given to a Penn Nursing faculty member, or a graduate from the School’s doctoral program, who has made a distinguished contribution to nursing scholarship. Matthew D. McHugh, PhD, JD, MPH, RN, CRNP, FAAN, The Independence Chair for Nursing Education, Professor of Nursing, and Director of the School’s Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research, is a stellar nurse scientist with national and international stature and impact. He is renowned for his program of research that addresses critical problems that affect the nursing profession and enhances health system quality. The award presentation will be on April 13, 2023.

December 05, 2022
Matthew D. McHugh
Matthew D. McHugh

McHugh’s impactful program of research has demonstrated in large-scale studies that almost all policy mandated healthcare quality performance measures are associated with nursing care and nurse resources. His work with multiple populations and health systems shows that a broad range of patient outcomes are better in institutions where nurses care for fewer patients, where a higher proportion of nurses have bachelor’s degrees, and where the quality of the nurse work environment is supportive of professional nursing practice. His research shows that nursing care is a major driver in improving patient satisfaction, reducing hospital mortality and failure-to-rescue rates, readmissions, poor glycemic control and other adverse outcomes, and high cost-low value care including excessive ICU use. Cumulative knowledge from his research makes a convincing case that treating nursing as a soft target for cost reductions actually increases rather than decreases costs due to expensive adverse outcomes. McHugh’s research on Magnet® recognized hospitals has increased adoption of Magnet best practices in U.S. and abroad. His research evaluating outcomes of health system redesign shows that replicating the structure of successful integrated systems often fails to translate into better outcomes if not accompanied by investments in nurses and nurse-led interventions. McHugh has demonstrated causal linkages between improvements in nurse staffing and improved patient outcomes by using natural experiments like legislation mandating safe nurse staffing levels, and this work has been a catalyst for more recent legislation around nurse staffing.

As recognition of the impact of his work, a selection of McHugh’s accolades include election as a Fellow of the National Academy of Medicine (2020), American Academy of Nursing (2012), a Fulbright Scholar (2001), and a Robert Wood Johnson Nurse Faculty Scholar (2011-14). He has received top awards and recognition for his publications such as the top 10 papers for Health Affairs (2013 & 2011) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation top 5 most influential research articles (2011). He has led six NIH-funded R01 grants over the last 10 years and served as co-investigator on four other R01s. He has been funded in excess of $70 million for his research and published over 100 papers in high-profile, peer reviewed journals such as Health Affairs, The Lancet, The Lancet Global Health, Medical Care, and JAMA Surgery.

McHugh’s leadership is evident in his role as the sole representative for nursing on various prestigious quality committees. Examples include membership on a National Quality Forum (NQF) committee, as an invited expert on the Leapfrog Group’s Hospital Safety Score Blue Ribbon Expert Panel, and service on multiple committees and high-profile panels for the National Academy of Medicine, including as a speaker on the topic of patient safety at the prestigious annual Rosenthal Lecture. He was also appointed by the Governor of Pennsylvania to serve on the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4), an independent state agency formed by statute to use data to inform policy and ensure high-quality, cost-effective care for all Pennsylvanians. He also serves on the American Academy of Nursing’s Building Health System Excellence Quality Expert Panel and speaks to audiences across the world (keynotes in Dubai, Australia, Belgium, Ireland, Singapore). Furthermore, McHugh’s research on nurse staffing and patient outcomes is having an impact as more jurisdictions adopt legislation and regulations requiring safe nurse staffing. Examples of policy changes that have cited his research include adoption of mandatory reporting of nurse staffing in New Jersey, minimum ICU nurse-to-patient ratio legislation in Massachusetts, and the adoption of minimum nurse staffing ratios in Wales, Ireland, and Queensland, Australia. McHugh completed his BSN at Gwynedd-Mercy University, PhD at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, MPH at the Harvard School of Public Health, and JD from the Northeastern University School of Law.

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