Donna Havens, PhD, RN, FAAN

Professor Emerita

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

Dr. Donna S. Havens’ career has included a rich blend of roles in nursing practice, academe, administration, and research. She was a tenured professor at the School from 2003-2018 and served as the interim dean of the UNC School of Nursing from 2014-2016. She presently serves as Connelly Endowed Dean and Professor at the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing at Villanova University.

From 2003 to 2006, Dr. Havens chaired the School of Nursing’s Health Care Environments Division. She came to UNC from the Pennsylvania State University School of Nursing, where she held the Ebberly Endowed Professorship and was part of a five-person leadership team who provided interim leadership to the School while a new dean was recruited.

Dr. Havens developed the Decisional Involvement Scale (DIS), which is used extensively in the U.S. and internationally to identify actual and preferred degrees of staff nurse involvement in workplace policy and practice decisions. Strengthening the staff nurse’s involvement in making decisions that improve the culture of the workplace is a key factor for improving nurse, patient, and organizational outcomes.

For more than 25 years, she has studied, published, consulted, and presented nationally and internationally about the nursing practice environment, nurse executive leadership and turnover, professional nursing practice, staff nurse decisional involvement, relational coordination, and Magnet hospitals.

Dr. Havens earned a diploma from the Grace New Haven School of Nursing at the Yale Medical Center, a BSN from Cedar Crest College, an MSN from Villanova University, and a PhD in Nursing from the University of Maryland focusing on health services research. She completed post-doctoral study on the organization of nursing and outcomes with Dr. Linda Aiken in the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.

She has served as principal investigator on multiple studies focused on improving nursing practice and patient care. Her most recent work includes several initiatives to translate research findings about the nursing practice environment and outcomes into evidence-based leadership and management to improve the quality of patient care and nursing practice in hospitals. These three HRSA-funded initiatives focused on improving communication and collaboration, staff nurse decisional involvement and her newest study is grounded in implementation science principles to enhance interprofessional collaborative practice in four rural Emergency Departments in rural NC hospitals.

Since 2012, she has held a Visiting Professorship at the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing & Midwifery at King’s College London, where she has collaborated with colleagues in the National Nursing Research Unit.

She belongs to multiple policy boards, serving as the chair of the American Nurses Credentialing Center Commission on Magnet and chair of the American Academy of Nursing Expert Panel on “Building Health Care System Excellence.” She has also served on the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE) Future Patient Care Delivery Committee and chaired the AONE Foundation Research Committee.