Patricia Flatley Brennan
Penn Nurses are trailblazers. For generations, they have pioneered new modes of practice, delivered care to the most vulnerable of populations, and assumed leadership roles across disciplines.
In May 2016, Dr. Brennan was named as the director of the National Library of Medicine, the world’s largest biomedical library and the producer of digital information services used by scientists, health professionals and members of the public worldwide. Dr. Brennan is the first nurse to hold this position.
Prior to assuming her role at the NLM, Dr. Brennan was the Lillian L. Moehlman Bascom Professor at the School of Nursing and College of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Brennan received her PhD in industrial engineering from the University (of Wisconsin-Madison).
“After I finished my master’s program at Penn Nursing, I was searching for a place where I could further study decision-making and healthcare,” said Brennan. “I ended up in industrial engineering, which turned out to be a great focus.”
Dr. Brennan has dedicated much of her career to the development of information systems for patients. She developed ComputerLink, an electronic network designed to reduce isolation and improve self-care among home care patients. She also directed HeartCare, a web-based information and communication service that helps home-dwelling cardiac patients recover better and faster, and Project HealthDesign, an initiative designed to stimulate the next generation of personal health records.
Throughout her work, Dr. Brennan has remained grateful for the perspective given to her by her nursing education.
“At Penn, I learned the importance of evidence-based practice – the importance of nurse generated evidence,” said Brennan. “I am extremely proud to be a nurse. The fundamental diagnosis and treatment skills we learn bring a unique focus to the challenges of human health.”
Dr. Brennan hopes to use this background to help shape her work in her new position at the NLM.
“This role brings an incredible authority and power to reshape the way we form literature so we redefine health and wellbeing. By the people and projects I foster, I will be able to make more common the literature searches and indexes that include intelligence, social engagement, environmental awareness, etc. Nursing teaches us that healthcare must be much broader to consider factors such as where we work, live, and learn.”