25 Top Nurse Practitioner Program Professors

Top NP professor

Becoming a nurse practitioner can be a scary leap for a practicing Registered Nurse. This career path means returning to the classroom and still staying up on clinical work and patient care, not to mention research and publication. Still, for most nurses that choose this path, it is well worth the sacrifice.

When searching for a nurse practitioner program, there are many factors to consider, including location, tuition and admissions criteria. But what will really make the difference in any aspiring nurse practitioner’s education is contact with great professors, which is why we put together this list.

The professors listed here are as dedicated to their teaching responsibilities as they are to their patients. Being able to train with these exceptional nurses can mean the difference between struggling through this chapter in your career or truly taking advantage of all your education has to offer.

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of all the nurse practitioner professors that can make a difference. Instead, consider these professors among the best of the best, who have proven themselves time and again to be top educators and top nurses.

Dr. Marie Bakitas is the Marie L. O’Korean Endowed Chair and Professor at the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Nursing. Dr. Bakitas is a Certified Adult Nurse Practitioner as well as an Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Nurse and Advanced Oncology Certified Nurse. She is internationally recognized for her contributions to the field of pain and symptom management and palliative care.


Cynthia Perry
Oregon Health & Science University

Dr. Cynthia Perry is an Associate Professor and Program Director of the Family Nurse Practitioner Program at the Oregon Health and Science University School of Nursing in Portland. Dr. Perry is an active family nurse practitioner herself, with her research focusing on physical activity promotion as an avenue to addressing health disparities.


Jean Davison
UNC – Chapel Hill

Dr. Jean Davison is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing. In 2013, Dr. Davison was chosen to be a visiting scholar to Hope Med and University at Freetown, Sierra Leone. Her research has been published in the Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioner as wall as Hispanic Health Care International.


Elaine D. Kauschinger
Duke University

Dr. Elaine D. Kauschinger is an Assistant Professor in the Family Nurse Practitioner Specialty at the Duke University School of Nursing. In 2012 and 2013, she was co-recipient of the Honor Roll Award for Excellence of Program and Faculty from the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties. Dr. Kauschinger has been an active nurse practitioner since 1980.


Shannon Reedy Idzik
University of Maryland – Baltimore

Dr. Shannon Reedy Idzik is an Assistant Professor and Director of the Doctorate of Nursing Practice Program at the University of Maryland School of Nursing. In 2013, Dr. Idzik was notably awarded a grant of nearly $300,000 by the Health Services Cost Review Commission of Maryland and the Maryland Higher Education Commission.


Sandra J. Engberg
University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Sandra J. Engbeg is a Professor and Associate Dean for Graduate Clinical Education at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing. Her teaching responsibilities include courses in global health care, as well as women’s health management and research. In 2007, Dr. Engberg was the recipient of the Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award.


Mary Jo Grap
Virginia Commonwealth University

Dr. Mary Jo Grap retired in 2015. Prior to that, she was a Nursing Alumni Distinguished Professor at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing. Dr. Grap herself is a Critical Care Nurse, having received the American Association of Critical Care Nurses Flame of Excellence Award in 2011. She is also a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing.


Mary Benbenek
University of Minnesota

Dr. Mary Benbenek is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing where she is also the coordinator of the family nurse practitioner specialty. She has worked as a nurse practitioner since 1995 and continues to practice in the Minnesota area. In 2013, Dr. Benbenek received the Outstanding Nurse Educator of the Year Award from the Minnesota Association of Colleges of Nursing.


Michelle Pardee
University of Michigan

Dr. Michelle Pardee is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Division of Health Promotion and Risk Reduction at the University of Michigan School of Nursing. Dr. Pardee’s scholarly interests include runaway and homeless adolescents as well as pregnant and parenting teens. She has contributed her expertise to the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties Program Director Manual.


Gail Johnson
University of Washington

Dr. Gail Johnson is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Washington School of Nursing. Dr. Johnson is also an Interprofessional Education faculty member who has 25 years of teaching experience at UW. She is also a consultant to the College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia for the Nurse Practitioner licensing exam and Nurse Practitioner Quality Assurance Program.


Pilar Bernal de Pheils

Dr. Pilar Bernal de Pheils is a Clinical Professor at the University of California, San Francisco School of Nursing. In addition to her teaching duties, Dr. Bernal de Pheils maintains a practice at the Mission Neighborhood Health Center and the Young Women’s Program in San Francisco. In 2007, she was selected for the UCSF Centennial Wall of Fame.

Ann L. O’Sullivan
University of Pennsylania

Dr. Ann L. O’Sullivan is the Dr. Hildagarde Reynolds Endowed Term Professor of Primary Care Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. Dr. O’Sullivan has more than 30 years of experience as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and is a leading authority on teen parenting and pregnancy prevention.


Sheila Grossman
Fairfield University

Dr. Sheila Grossman is a Professor at the Fairfield University School of Nursing where she also serves on the American Nurses Association Commission on Credentialing as the Family Nurse Practitioner Representative. In 2011, Dr. Grossman was the recipient of the Outstanding Nurse Practitioner Faculty Educator Award from the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculty.


Margaret Grey
Yale University

Dr. Margaret Grey is the Dean and Annie Goodrich Professor at the Yale University School of Nursing, part of the Graduate Nursing Program where she was also the founding director of the School’s doctoral program. In 2008, she was named Outstanding Nurse Scientist by the American Academy of Nursing/Council for the Advancement of Nursing Science.


Barbara Berner
University of Alaska Anchorage

Dr. Berner is a Professor and Director of the School of Nursing in the College of Health at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Dr. Berner continues her work as a practicing nurse practitioner in Alaska. In 2008, she was named Outstanding Nurse Practitioner Educator of the Year by the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties.


Joanne M. Pohl
University of Michigan

Dr. Joanne M. Pohl is a Professor Emerita in the Division of Health Promotion and Risk Reduction at the University of Michigan School of Nursing. Dr. Pohl has more than 30 years of experience as a nurse practitioner. In 2011, she was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties.


Jamesetta A. Newland
New York University

Dr. Jamesetta A. Newland is a Clinical Associate Professor at the New York University College of Nursing where she teaches in the Doctorate of Nursing Practice program. Her clinical interests include health promotion, primary care, and sickle cell disease. In 2011, Dr. Newland received the Nurse Practitioner New York State Award for Excellence from the American Academy of Nurse Practitioner.


Kristine A. Scordo
Wright State University
Dayton, OH

Dr. Kristine Scordo is a Professor as well as director of the acute care Nurse Practitioner Program at the Wright State University College of Nursing. Dr. Scordo also practices as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner with a focus on cardiology. In 2013, she was named Outstanding Nurse Practitioner Educator by the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties.


Ying Mai Kung
Florida State University

Dr. Ying Mai Kung is an Associate Professor of Nursing at the Florida State University College of Nursing. Dr. Kung’s research interests include innovative practice models, influenza vaccination, and nurses’ use of social media. Dr. Kung has presented at the National American Academy of Nurse Practitioner Conference and was recipient of the 2010 Nurse of Excellence Award from the Tallahassee Area Council of Advanced Practice Nurses.


Susanne J. Phillips
University of California at Irvine

Susanne J. Phillips is an Associate Clinical Professor in the School of Nursing Science at the University of California at Irvine. Dr. Phillips is the coordinator of UCI’s Family Nurse Practitioner Concentration and the Chair of the Program in Nursing Science Faculty Association. She was awarded the UCI FNP Program Faculty of the Year award in both 2007 and 2008.


Dianne Fuller
University of Utah

Dr. Dianne Fuller is a Clinical Professor at the University of Utah College of Nursing where she has proved her dedication to nursing education. She has received numerous awards for her service including a 2012 Select Health 25 Award for her service to populations with special needs. She is also the Director of the Primary Care DNP Nurse Practitioner Program.


Selecting the top nurse practitioner program professors in the country required a specific list of criteria. While this is not a complete list of all the worth nurse practitioner professors, those that are on this list have been held to high standards, as follows:

  1. National Publication: Research and publication is key for anyone seeking to advance in academia and for nursing professors, it is no different. By taking the time to seek out original research and publish it in peer-reviewed journals, these professors have gone above and beyond.
  2. Professor Level: Many nurse practitioner programs have instructors who are lecturers or instructor level. Those on this list have all been named assistant professor, associate professor, or professor. Special consideration was made to include those professors who occupy endowed chairs or leadership positions at their schools as well.
  3. Top Rated Nurse Practitioner Program: Of all the nurse practitioner programs in the U.S., only some are able to attract top talent with their facilities and reputation. The professors here teach at top rated universities that offer the best in nurse practitioner education.
Barry Franklin

Barry Franklin


Barry is the Editor in Chief of NPS, operated by educational web publisher Sechel Ventures, which he co-owns. When not managing content, Barry sits on the board of a K-8 school, and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, children, and dogs.

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