When patients are sedated, on a ventilator, or unconscious, they cannot speak for themselves. Acute care nurse practitioners play an important part in learning the patient’s and family’s wishes, advocating for the patient, and directing care appropriately. Training nurse practitioners who care for acutely or critically ill patients to assess, develop differential diagnoses, interpret diagnostic studies, diagnose the problem, and develop and implement an individualized plan of care and evaluate that plan to determine if the goals of care are being reached, is my passion as Penn Nursing’s, Streamlined Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Post-Graduate APRN Certificate Program.

The Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Program was one of the first in the U.S. to train nurses in critical care and prepare them for board certification. As a certified critical care nurse practitioner herself, Dr. Becker understands the challenges and demands of the specialty. She works with nurse practitioners at all levels, from novices to providers with decades of clinical experience.

Outside of Penn, Dr. Becker has led the way in establishing the role of acute care nurse practitioners in countries including England, Ireland, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, and Taiwan. Dr. Becker and her colleagues frequently consult on nurse practitioners’ potential, offering training and leadership.

When I was in nursing school, I never expected that one day I would help nurses around the globe prepare students for specialty careers.


  • PhD, Drexel University, 2007
  • MSN, University of Pennsylvania, 1991
  • BSN, Thomas Jefferson University, 1984
  • BSG, Villanova University, 1982


Dr. Becker teaches in the both the Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program and the Streamlined Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Post-Graduate APRN Certificate program. A recipient of the University of Penn’s Provost Award for Distinguished Teaching, Dr. Becker appreciates watching students’ knowledge and confidence grow as they become skilled novice providers.

Clinical Practice

Penn Nursing’s close alignment with the University of Pennsylvania Health System and its wide variety of specialists allows students to participate in highly complex cases and experience a genuinely interprofessional approach to patient care. New methods of decision-making and procedures not yet adopted at other hospitals are available – and often, developed – at Penn, exposing students to state-of-the-science nursing and health leadership experiences.

Opportunities to Learn and Collaborate at Penn Nursing

As a member of Sigma Theta Tau International, Nursing’s Honor Society and as a long- time member of the American Association for Critical Care Nurses and the Society for Critical Care Medicine, Dr. Becker has increasingly focused on how high-tech simulation can enhance training for many health care providers: physicians, dentists, pharmacists, physical and occupational therapists, as well as nurses at all levels. A certified healthcare simulation educator and active member of the Society for Simulation in Health Care, she promotes interprofessional use of simulation to make training as realistic as possible.

Selected Career Highlights

  • Member Visiting Committee for Review of MN Program, National University of Singapore, Alice Lee Center for Nursing Studies, Singapore.

  • International Curriculum Consultant for APRN programs, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland

  • University Research Foundation Impact Seminar. PennDemic: An Interprofessional Infectious Disease Outbreak Simulation

  • Critical Care Nursing Orientation Program, International Consultant, Juzoor for Health & Social Development, Palestinian Health Capacity Project, El Bireh, Palestine

Accepting Mentees?

  • Yes

Accepting Fellows?

  • No

Featured Publications

  • Cole, SD., Nelson, HCM., Jenkins, BD., Poon, CY., Rankin, SC., & Becker, DE. (2021). PennDemic Simulation Framework: An Innovative Approach to Increase Student Interest and Confidence in Disaster Preparedness/Response and Interdisciplinary Teamwork. Frontiers in Public Health, 9,682112.

  • Becker, D., Dechant, L., Konick-McMahon, J., McNamara, L., Thomas, K., Noe, C., & Fabrey, L. (2020), Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and Clinical Nurse Specialist Practice Analysis Results: Research Informing the Certification Process. American Journal of Critical Care

View all publications

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