Carmen Paula Alvarez, PhD, CRNP, CNM, FAAN

Carmen Alvarez, PhD, CRNP, CNM, FAAN

Associate Professor of Nursing

My scholarship is informed and inspired by my work —as a researcher, and family nurse practitioner —in federally-qualified health centers and community-based clinics that serve marginalized communities. In these settings, I often encounter patients who are survivors of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and intimate partner violence (IPV), and struggle with the long-term physical and mental health challenges brought on by ACES and IPV. My research uncovers the healthcare gaps and needs of underserved populations; particularly immigrant Latina women. Despite being disproportionately affected by trauma, evidence-based interventions for this population remain lacking. I collaborate with community partners to address mental health and chronic disease disparities for marginalized populations -particularly survivors of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and intimate partner violence (IPV). This program of research is important given the prevalence of these events and their association with poorer health outcomes.

For many adults the past (childhood adversity) is not just the past, it continues to create challenges in their daily lives. I develop programs to help people manage these daily challenges and feel good about themselves.


  • PhD, University of Michigan, 2012
  • MSN, Emory University, 2007
  • BSN, Emory University, 2005
  • BS, Iowa State University, 2002

Social Justice

A thriving and diverse healthcare workforce is essential for meeting and exceeding the needs of marginalized populations. Dr. Alvarez led several projects to uncover the personal and work-related stressors experienced by frontline healthcare workers serving marginalized populations in Maryland, Puerto Rico, and Ghana, during the COVID-19 pandemic. In all settings, healthcare leadership often miss opportunities to support those who serve the patients. Dr. Alvarez continues to work with academic and community partners in Puerto Rico and Ghana to optimize support for frontline workers during the pandemic and beyond.

Building the evidence to eliminate health disparities is equally as important as building a diverse cadre of skilled researchers and practitioners. To this end, Dr. Alvarez is deeply committed to issues of diversity and inclusion in nursing. She served as a committee member for the National Academies of Medicine (NAM) to assess the Campaign for Action’s progress on the 2010 Future of Nursing (FON) recommendations in key areas —scope of practice, education, leadership, interprofessional collaboration, diversity, and workforce data. Dr. Alvarez also served as the national co-chair for the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Steering Committee for the Campaign for Action. She led a committee of diverse nurse leaders to develop strategies to advance the recommendations of the NAM report.


As nursing faculty at Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Alvarez taught across all nursing programs on health promotion and disease prevention across the lifespan, women’s health, leadership in public health and advised DNP students on their quality improvement projects. Now at Penn Nursing, Dr. Alvarez will focus on ..


Cuidándome(quee-dan-doh-meh, “taking care of myself”)–Improving Psychosocial Well-Being for Latina Immigrant Survivors of Adverse Childhood Experiences Supported by the Harold Amos Faculty Development Program Dr. Alvarez developedCuidándome. This is a trauma-informed, social problem-solving program delivered virtually by a trained facilitator. Cuidándomewas adapted in collaboration with Latina immigrant women with a history of child abuse and depression/anxiety. Preliminary findings suggest that this program helps to decrease depression/anxiety symptoms, family conflict, and helps women feel more empowered for managing daily stressors. Dr. Alvarez will continue working to test the effectiveness of this program for decreasing depression/anxiety symptoms among Spanish-speaking, Latina Immigrant ACE survivors.

Selected Career Highlights

  • 2019 –Harold Amos Faculty Development Award
  • 2019 –Fellow, American Academy of Nursing
  • 2015 –Editorial Board Member, Journal of Interpersonal Violence

Featured Publications

  • Alvarez, C., Villarruel, A.M. (2015). “Association of Gender Norms, Relationship and Intrapersonal Variables, and Acculturation with Sexual Communication Among Young Adult Latinos”. Research in Nursing & Health, 38(2), 121-132.10.1002/nur.21645

  • Alvarez, C., & Villarruel, A. (2013). Sexual communication among young adult Latinos: A qualitative descriptive study. Hispanic Health Care International, 11(3), 101-110.

  • Alvarez C, Bauermeister JA, Villarruel AM (2014). “Sexual communication and sexual behavior among young adult heterosexual latinos”. Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care (JANAC), 25(6), 577-88.10.1016/j.jana.2014.06.005

  • Alvarez, C., Zhou, Y., Gallegos, E.C., & Villarruel, A.M. (2010). Predictors of condom use among Mexican American adolescents. Research and Theory for Nursing Practice: An International Journal, 24, 187-196. PMCID: PMC3290769.

View all publications

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