Geriatric Nurse Practitioner Susan Renz was born at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, raised by a Penn Nursing alumna, and earned two degrees at Penn Nursing. When she began serving as a preceptor to Penn Nursing students shortly after entering clinical practice, she found that she loved teaching.

Seeing our nurse practitioner students grow and become ready for practice is my greatest joy.


  • PhD, University of Arizona College of Nursing, 2017
  • DNP, New York University, 2012
  • MSN, University of Pennsylvania, 1987
  • BSN, University of Pennsylvania, 1984


As course director for “Primary Care Clinical Practicum: Diagnosis and Management of Adults Across the Lifespan” (N647), Dr. Renz ensures that students have opportunities for inter-professional education. Teams of nursing, medical, pharmacy, and physical and occupational therapy students from Penn and the University of the Sciences work together to learn how to communicate with standardized patients and their families in the simulation lab. Faculty from Penn Nursing, the Perelman School of Medicine, and the University of the Sciences co-teach the course


For her DNP degree, Dr. Renz studied the use of the Situation Background Assessment Recommendation, a structured assessment and communication protocol, in improving communication between nurses and physicians and reducing unplanned hospital transfers at a skilled nursing facility. Of the nurses who participated, 87.5% found the protocol useful in organizing information and providing cues on what to communicate to physicians about clinical events. Most physicians felt nurses who used the protocol were better communicators. Unplanned hospital transfers were reduced 25% over four months. The skilled nursing facility now uses the protocol system-wide.  

In 2015, Dr. Renz received first place awards for this research from the National Gerontological Nursing Association and the Eastern Nursing Research Society. She’s continuing this research in her PhD studies at the University of Arizona, and plans to focus her dissertation on nurse to provider communication in nursing homes.

Clinical Practice

As a federal monitor for the U.S. Department of Justice and the Office of the Inspector General, Dr. Renz helps nursing homes that are under corporate integrity agreements develop better systems to improve the care they provide to residents. She also serves on the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Medical/Legal Advisory Board on Elder Abuse, helping attorneys determine whether cases rise to the level of abuse or neglect of older adults.

Opportunities to Learn and Collaborate at Penn Nursing

Dr. Renz also collaborates with faculty from Penn Nursing’s family and pediatric nurse practitioner programs to continually improve courses that students in all three programs take. In “Advanced Concepts in Primary Care” (N663), for example, she and her co-course directors involved a group of students in re-designing the content and assignments.

In many nurse practitioner programs, students have to find clinical placements on their own. At Penn Nursing, Dr. Renz finds and vets sites for students in the Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Program and ensures that students have valuable clinical experiences.

Selected Career Highlights

  • Dean’s Award for MS/MSN/DNP Scholarly Mentorship, 2023
  • Dean’s Award for Exemplary Citizenship, 2020
  • Provost’s Award for Teaching Excellence, University of Pennsylvania, 2017
  • Outstanding Dissertation Award, University of Arizona College of Nursing, 2017
  • Member, Sigma Theta Tau International
  • Member, Golden Key International Honour Society, University of Arizona
  • Dean’s Award for Teaching, Penn Nursing
  • Fellow, University of Arizona

Accepting Mentees?

  • Yes

Accepting Fellows?

  • No

Selected Publications

  • Renz, S., & Carrington, J. (2016). Nurse-Physician Communication in Long-Term Care: Literature Review. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 42(9): 30-37.

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