Julie Sochalski, PhD, RN, FAAN

Associate Professor of Nursing

Associate Dean for Academic Programs

Class of 1965 25th Reunion Term Chair

As the United States’ former director for nursing workforce development, Julie Sochalski has one patient: the U.S. health care system. Her intervention is evidence-based workforce initiatives to heal that system. From 2010-2013, Dr. Sochalski directed the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Division of Nursing and was Principal Advisor for Health Workforce Policy, overseeing its multi-million dollar budget to promote equitable access to care. Working across federal agencies, she was part of President Obama’s administration implementing the Affordable Care Act, specifically aligning health workforce programs to expand access to comprehensive primary care in underserved communities and advancing interprofessional education and practice.

A nationally/internationally recognized expert in health workforce policy, Dr. Sochalski research seeks to elucidate workforce inputs into high quality, team-based primary care, and the impact of policy initiatives on health care workforce development and deployment. That work includes building it from the ground up through the design and execution of innovative nursing and interprofessional curricular initiatives to produce the healthcare workforce needed to advance population health.

Dr. Sochalski’s policy expertise draws from a unique journey that includes elite training in health policy through the RWJF Health Policy Fellowship program, holding senior health policy posts in the federal government, testifying to the US Congress on the nursing shortage with that testimony converted to federal legislation, developing legislation on advance practice nursing that was incorporated and successfully passed in the ACA and then contributing to the RFA that implemented those provisions, shaping the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) Health Care Innovation Awards (Round One) to include workforce innovation as a key component, establishing federal funding for the promotion of interprofessional practice and education models, and success in grant funding to promote integration of behavioral mental health in interprofessional primary care training programs.


  • PhD, University of Michigan, 1988
  • MS, University of Michigan, 1979
  • BS, Nursing, University of Michigan, 1975
  • Board Scholar-in-Residence, American Board of Family Practice, The Robert Graham Center, Washington, D.C., 2015
  • American Academy of Nursing-AARP Senior Policy Fellowship, Washington, D.C., 2009
  • Senior Scholar-in-Residence, Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Rockville, MD, 2001-2002
  • Health Policy Fellow, Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellowship Program, Washington, D.C. , 1993-1994
  • Health Policy Internship, Office of the Administrator, Health Care Financing Administration (now CMS), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Washington, D.C., 1985


During her tenure the school’s academic dean, Dr. Sochalski has directed an education portfolio promoting programs and pedagogies needed to innovate practice and to forge the science foundations of the discipline. She has been project director on workforce development and research grants through which curricular innovations in primary care have been designed, implemented and subsequently sustained and expanded across programs. Her curricular re-envisioning has touched the entire range of academic programs—from undergraduate to doctoral levels. She is part of the leadership team that secured the largest philanthropic gift ever received by a School of Nursing—$125 million—to build a primary care advanced practice nursing workforce ready to lead in underserved communities. Her reach has been global as well, most recently through the Penn-Vingroup Alliance in Vietnam to establish a new university in Hanoi—the VinUniversity—and a new health sciences school with its inaugural bachelors of nursing program. She co-directs Penn’s National Clinicians Scholars Program, a six-site national two-year fellowship program for physicians and post-doctoral nurses that offers a rigorous program of research, policy, and leadership training to become the health system change agents fully equipped to shift the arc of health care to better health and health equity.

In the classroom, Dr. Sochalski challenges students to contrast the health policies we have with those we need, and to posit strategies to achieve the policy goals that have eluded us. For example, in the Penn Nursing/Wharton Health Care Management senior policy research course, Dr. Sochalski had class members examine today’s nursing shortage in light of six decades of policy proposals directed (and failing) to address the problem. Their resulting policy brief was presented to and well-received by policy staff in Pennsylvania’s then-new Governor’s office. This project fits with Dr. Sochalski’s pride in inspiring new nurses and future health policy leaders to take up the mantle of reform. Strong mentors made her work possible, and she enjoys mentoring the next generation.


A career that encompasses health care ethics, economic and financing, and health policy gives Dr. Sochalski a healthy regard for interdisciplinary thinking and curiosity. Her research, published in high impact journals such as Health Affairs and JAMA, includes studies of nurse staffing models that advance patient and staff outcomes, interprofessional training models in integrated primary care, national and international nursing workforce trends, and the outcomes and effectiveness of post-acute transitional care models of care. Recent federal funding includes several workforce research and development grants focused on testing enhanced clinical and didactic training in caring for underserved populations in urban and rural settings for primary care NP students, interprofessional models to increase uptake of best practices in integrative behavioral health and primary care training, and new interprofessional didactic and experiential learning opportunities for psych-mental health NP trainees in complex-care management in an IBH environment with a special emphasis on violence prevention, mental health disorders among children and adolescents, and opioid use disorder. Dr. Sochalski’s modus operandi is to continually question how diverse providers practice, with which patients and in what settings, to find targeted solutions that reduce inequities in health care and health outcomes.

Accepting Mentees?

  • Yes

Accepting Fellows?

  • Yes

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