Kristen Swanson, PhD, RN, FAAN, has had an incredible impact on patient care, leadership, education, public service and clinical practice through her contributions to nursing science and nursing education. Her Theory of Caring has provided the foundation for hundreds of scientific studies as well as a theoretical framework for the nursing care provided at clinical institutions worldwide.
Swanson’s Theory of Caring is based on the idea that nurses demonstrating they care about patients is as important to patient well-being as the clinical activities provided. It considers and cares for the whole person and is the foundation for better healing and better care. Swanson has published widely, presented and consulted across the region, nation and the globe on her well-supported and very helpful theory.
Today, Swanson is the Dean of the Seattle University College of Nursing and a professor. For nearly 22 years, Swanson served on the faculty at the University of Washington School of Nursing. Her time at the UW began as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in 1985, and she progressively moved up to Research Assistant Professor, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor and ultimately Professor and Chairperson of Family and Child Nursing, where she also held the UWMC Endowed Professorship in Nursing Leadership. Swanson left the UW in 2009 to take on the role of Dean and Alumni Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina School of nursing and returned to Seattle in 2014 to step into her current role as Dean of SU’s College of Nursing.
Swanson received her BS in Nursing from the University of Rhode Island in 1975. She went on to earn an MSN in 1978 from the University of Pennsylvania and a PhD from the University of Colorado School of Nursing in 1983.
Swanson is well known for her research on pregnancy loss in addition to the Swanson Theory of Caring. Swanson has published over 100 articles and book chapters and provided hundreds of presentations and consultations to advance the science related to Caring in Nursing. Her seminal work in the Science of Caring is having a positive effect on the care provided by nurses and the outcomes of patient care. Her work has helped many, many institutions create a positive workplace environment and advanced the profession of nursing for all of us.
Swanson’s professional achievements and awards are numerous. To name a few, she received the National Center for Nursing Research FIRST Award in 1988 and was inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing in 1991. In 2004-2007, she was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Executive Nurse Fellow, an advanced leadership initiative for nurses in senior executive roles who aspire to lead and shape the future U.S. health care system. She is serving her second term on the American Association of Colleges of Nursing Board of Directors.
Swanson’s Theory of Caring has provided much needed guidance for the advancement of nursing science and for the quality of nursing practice in all clinical settings. Her contributions to nursing science and her leadership in nursing education has improved the profession globally and especially in the state of Washington.