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Dean Kristen Swanson

Kristen Swanson, RN, PhD, FAAN

Alumni Distinguished Professor

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
School of Nursing
Carrington Hall, CB #7460
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7460

Office: 107

Phone: (919) 966-3731


Specialty Area: Women’s Health

Kristen M. Swanson, RN, PhD, FAAN, is renowned for her research on pregnancy loss and for development of the Swanson Theory of Caring – a theory that is used internationally to guide research, education, and practice. She is an alumnus of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Executive Fellows program and a member of the American Academy of Nursing. Before coming to Chapel Hill, she held the University of Washington Medical Center Term Professorship in Nursing Leadership. She also served as Chairperson of the Department of Family and Child Nursing at the University of Washington School of Nursing where she was a faculty member for over 20 years. "I came to the Chapel Hill because I saw the commitment of administration, faculty, staff and students to ‘getting it right.' In the School and throughout the University people are not afraid of hard work. There is clear evidence of integrity, a passion for excellence, openness to collaboration and a sense of pride in knowing that the work we do every day makes a difference,"" Swanson said. "In particular, the School's values and mission match my personal and professional beliefs about nursing education, clinical research and the delivery of care." Since coming to the School of Nursing, Dean Swanson has focused on intensifying the linkages between nursing education, research and practice. In partnership with Clinical Professor, Dr. Mary Tonges, Chief Nursing Officer and Senior Vice President for Patient Care Services at UNC Hospital Dean Swanson is committed to strengthening the scholarship that supports nursing practice and leveraging the wisdom in practice that enhances the relevance of nursing education and research. Dean Swanson earned her bachelor's degree in nursing from the University of Rhode Island, her masters in adult health and illness nursing from the University of Pennsylvania, and a PhD in psycho-social nursing from the University of Colorado. She completed her postdoctoral work at the University of Washington. In addition to holding a faculty position at the University of Washington, she taught at Trenton State College, the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, and the University of Colorado School of Nursing. Swanson's research interest is in miscarriage and early pregnancy loss. She began this work with her dissertation, ""The Unborn One: A Profile of The Human Experience of Miscarriage,"" and has continued studying this area both as an investigator and as a consultant to others. She has been the principal investigator or co-investigator on 10 grants dealing with early pregnancy loss, caring and related topics since 1985. It is during this time that she developed the Swanson Theory of Caring. Since developing the theory, she has consulted internationally on implementation of the caring theory in clinical practice, research, and education. Dean Swanson has been an invited speaker or visiting professor on multiple occasions. She was awarded the University of Rhode Island College of Nursing Distinguished Alumni Award. She is also on the editorial board or serves as a reviewer for the Journal of Nursing Scholarship, Nursing Outlook, Research in Nursing and Health, and the International Journal of Human Caring. A selected list of Dr. Swanson's publications can be found here here.