25 Top Pediatric Nursing Professors

Top PNP professor

Hardly anyone would argue with the fact that working with children can be an exceptionally rewarding experience. Indeed, this is likely the reason that many of these seasoned professionals have chosen to dedicate their lives to ensuring children around the world are healthier and happier. The professors on this list are highly educated. The majority of them have studied through the PhD level and done extensive research and clinical work with all types of children and their families. At this point in their careers, they have taken it on themselves to further the field of pediatric nursing by teaching and working in educational settings, sharing their knowledge with aspiring pediatric nurses.

Choosing pediatric nursing as a specialty can be both exciting and a bit scary. Every professor on this list is a committed mentor and educator, offering something truly special to every student they touch.


Donna J. Marvicsin
PhD, PNP-BC, CDE University of Michigan

Dr. Donna J. Marvicsin is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Division of Health Promotion and Risk Reduction at the University of Michigan School of Nursing. Dr. Marvicsin’s research interests include diabetes in school-age children, parenting of children with chronic conditions, and prevention of pediatric obesity.


Gail Kieckhefer
PhD, PNP-BC, AE-C, ARNP University of Washington

Dr. Gail Kieckhefer is the Joanne Montgomery Endower Professor in Nursing at the University of Washington School of Nursing. Dr. Kieckhefer’s research interests include chronic childhood illness and childhood asthma. She teaches in the Doctorate of Nursing Practice Program and is active in the American Thoracic Society as well as the National Organization of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners.


Mary Berg
DNP, RN, ARNP University of Iowa

Dr. Mary Berg is an Associate Clinical Professor at the University of Iowa College of Nursing. Dr. Berg is also the coordinator of the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Program. She also maintains a primary care practice at the Health Kids Community Care School-Based Clinic and is an active member of the Iowa Association of Nurse Practitioner.

Ashley E. Darcy Mahoney
PhD, RN, NNP-BC Emory

Dr. Ashley E. Darcy Mahoney is an Assistant Professor at the Neil Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University. In addition to her teaching at Emory, Dr. Darcy Mahoney serves on the board of the Florida Association of Neonatal Nurse Practitioners, and continues to practice as a neonatal nurse practitioner.


Shawna Mudd
DNP, CPNP-AC, PNP-BC Johns Hopkins University

Dr. Shawna Mudd is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Acute and Chronic Care at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. Her research interests include pediatric asthma care and acute pain management. Dr. Mudd has also worked as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at the Johns Hopkins Hospital for more than a decade.


Rita Marie John
DNP, EdD, CPNP,PMHS Columbia University

Dr. Rita Marie John is an Associate Professor of Nursing as well as Director of the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner/Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program at the Columbia University School of Nursing. In 2010, Dr. John was the recipient of the Dorothy H. and Thomas L. O’Neil Distinguished Faculty Award and has also been inducted into the Glenda Garvey Teaching Academy.


Paula P. Meier
PhD, RN, FAAN Rush University

Dr. Paula P. Meier is a Professor and Director for Clinical Research and Lactation at the Rush University College of Nursing, part of the Rush Medical College in Chicago, Illinois. She was the recipient of the Leadership in Research Award from the Rush University Faculty in 2012 for her extensive research into lactation and the effects of breast milk on infants.


Julie Novak
DNSc, RN, CPNP, FAANP University of Texas Health Science Center Houston

Dr. Julie Novak is the Vice Dean for Practice and Engagement as well as the Joseph and Thelma Crow Endowed Professor at the University of Texas, Houston Health Science Center. Over the course of her career as a nurse researched, Dr. Novak has been awarded more than $20 million in grants for her research into child and family health.


Debra H. Brandon
PhD, RN, CCNS, FAAN Duke University

Dr. Debra H. Brandon is an Associate Professor as well as the Director of the PhD in Nursing Program at the Duke University School of Nursing. Dr. Brandon practices as a Neonatal Clinical Nurse Specialist at the Duke University Medical Center where she has worked for more than two decades. Her research interests as a pediatric nurse include the effects of the intensive care environment on the development of preterm infants.


Judith A. Vessey
PhD, DPNP, MBA, FAAN Boston College

Dr. Judith A. Vessey is the Leila Holden Carroll Professor in Nursing at the William F. Connell School of Nursing at Boston College. Her research interests include the effect of chronic teasing and bullying on psychological and physical health of children and adolescents as well as bullying the workplace care coordination.

Regina Dunst

Regina Dunst MS, RN, CPNP University of Wisconsin at Madison

Regina Dunst is a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Nursing. She was the recipient of the UW-Madison Division of Information Technology Adaptation Award for her incorporation of new technology in her teaching. She was also named the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner of the Year by the Wisconsin Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners.


Elizabeth Reifsnider PhD, RN, WHNP, PHCNS-BC, FAAN Arizona State University

Dr. Elizabeth Reifsnider is the Associate Dean for Research and the Nancy Melvin Professor of Pediatric Nursing at the Arizona State University College of Nursing and Health Innovation. In 2013, Dr. Reifsnider was named Nurse of the Year by the March of Dimes Arizona chapter for her work with Arizona children and communities.


Patricia Jackson Allen MS, RN, PNP, FAAN Yale University

Patricia Jackson Allen is a Professor of Nursing as well as the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Specialty Coordinator at the Yale University School of Nursing. In addition to her teaching schedule in the school’s graduate program, Allen works two days per week as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse at the Yale University Pediatric Primary Care Center. In 2011, she was the recipient of the Association of Faculties of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners Outstanding Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Educator Award.


Cynthia A. Danford PhD, RN, PNP-BC, CPNP-PC University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Cynthia A. Danford is an Assistant Professor of Health Promotion and Development at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing. In 2012, Dr. Danford was named Researcher of the Year by the Association of Faculties of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners for her work in the areas of childhood obesity and child health in vulnerable populations.


Diana Jacobson PhD, RN, PNP-BC, PMHS Arizona State University

Dr. Diana Jacobson is an Assistant Professor at the Arizona State University College of Nursing and Health Innovation. She has been a Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner for over two decades, with research interests including pediatric obesity prevention and treatment and health lifestyle intervention research with children, adolescents, families, and communities. Dr. Jacobsen was named 2013’s Outstanding Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Educator by the Association of Faculties of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners.


Abbey Alkon RN, PhD, PNP, MPH University of California, San Francisco

Dr. Abbey Alkon is a Professor of pediatric nursing at the University of California, San Francisco School of Nursing. In addition to her duties as educator, Dr. Alkon serves as the Director of the California Childcare Health Program, which is an organization dedicated to improving the quality of child care in California through community-based action. In 2010, she was the recipient of the Dr. Susan S. Aronson Child Care Advocacy Award from the American Academy of Pediatrics.


Martha Swartz PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN Yale University

Dr. Martha K. Swartz is a Professor of Nursing and the Primary Care Division Chair at the Yale University Graduate School of Nursing. Dr. Swartz teaches in the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner specialty where her research interests include the parenting of preterm infants, health related quality of life in infants, and the relationship between family function and quality of life in children with asthma. Dr. Swartz was a 2013 recipient of the Nightingale Award.


Donna Hallas PhD, RN, PNP-BC, CPNP, FAANP New York University

Dr. Donna Hallas is a Clinical Professor and Coordinator of the Advanced Practice Nursing Pediatrics program at New York University. Dr. Hallas has more than 20 years experience as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and brings her clinical knowledge into the classroom in her role as educator. In 2011, she was the recipient of the Nelms-Miller Editorial Award from the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners.


Cindy Rubenstein RN, PhD, CPNP-PC James Madison University

Dr. Cindy Rubenstein is a professor in the Department of Nursing at James Madison University. She has practiced in a variety of settings including the pediatric emergency department, neonatal intensive care, and pediatric primary care. In 2013, she was recognized by the American Association of College of Nursing and received their Excellence and Innovation in Teaching Award.


Janice A. Selekman DNS, MSN, BSN University of Delaware

Dr. Janice A. Selekman is a professor at the University of Delaware School of Nursing where her research interests include school health and children’s wellness needs in school, at home, and in hospitals. Dr. Selekman has also been recognized for her contributions in the field of ADHD and learning disabilities.


Nancy Cantey Banasiak MSN, PNP, APRN-BC Yale University

Nancy Cantey Banasiak is an Associate Professor of Nursing at the Yale University School of Nursing. She teaches in the Pediatric Nursing Practitioner specialty where she has been a faculty member since 1998. She also practices at the Yale-New Haven Hospital Primary Care Center and was a recipient of a 2010 Nightingale Award for her contributions in nursing.


Mary Fran Hazinski MSN, RN Vanderbilt University

Dr. Mary Fran Hazinski is a professor of nursing at the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. She has received numerous awards for her work in pediatrics, including a prestigious “Giant” award from the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR) for her research regarding automated external defibrillators and pediatric rhythms.


Sharon Y. Irving PhD, CRNP University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Sharon Y. Irving is an Assistant Professor of Pediatric Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. She is also a Nurse Practitioner at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. In 2013, Dr. Irving was the recipient of the UPenn School of Nursing Dean’s Award for Exemplary Professional Practice.


Choosing the top Pediatric Nursing Professors in the country is no easy task. In a profession that is largely populated by compassionate and highly educated individuals, there are many such professors deserving of recognition. In order to compile this list, we relied on the following criteria.

  1. Peer Recognition
    The professors on this list have been recognized by their peers in various ways. This includes prestigious national awards, such as the Nightingale Award, and publication of scholarly research in peer reviewed publications such as Journal for Specialists in Pediatric Nursing and Issues in Comprehensive Pediatric Nursing.
  2. Continued Practice
    The best educators are those who themselves continue to learn. The professors on this list have dedicated themselves to the practice of nursing by continuing to see patients and learn advanced techniques even as they became professors.
  3. Advanced Level Courses
    While aspiring nurses at any level of their education may seek out specialty training in pediatrics, the professors on this list have been called on to teach high level courses for Nurse Practitioners and those pursing a Doctorate of Nursing Practice.

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