Practice Assistant Professor
Vice Chair, Department of Family and Community Health

Helping new pediatric nurses bridge the gap between what they learn in nursing school and what employers expect of them is a key focus for Kirsten A. Hickerson.

By working closely with The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), Dr. Hickerson helps ensure that undergraduate nursing students have meaningful clinical experiences at CHOP. She connects students with clinical faculty and experienced nurses who can help them build clinical skills and competencies and gain practical knowledge of a nurse’s role in a children’s hospital. 

A Successful Transition from Nursing School to First Job 

Dr. Hickerson also works with leaders at CHOP to understand the hospital’s expectations for pediatric nurses in their first job after graduation. She then re-designs Pediatric Nursing, a required junior year course that she helped develop, to enable students to meet those expectations.  

For example, when issues with Ebola became an urgent health crisis, CHOP developed and implemented isolation and emergency response teams. Dr. Hickerson added isolation and emergency response, including CHOP’s new policies for handling and transporting patients, to the curriculum. She also took students on a tour of CHOP’s temporary facility for Ebola patients. Through course evaluations and quantitative research with alumni, Dr. Hickerson continually learns about how best to prepare nursing students for success as a student and in their first job. 

“I am fully committed to the success of our undergraduate students. I help prepare them to transition from the role of student to the role of professional nurse.”


  • DNP, Johns Hopkins University, 2015
  • MS, University of Virginia, 1988
  • BSN, University of Rochester, 1987