People of SU / Science / Technology and Health

Lifetime Achievement

June 21, 2022

Kristen Swanson, Dean, College of Nursing

College of Nursing Dean Swanson to be honored with award recognizing her longstanding leadership in nursing education, research and patient care.

Kristen Swanson, PhD, RN, FAAN, Dean of the College of Nursing, is the recipient of the 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award from University of Colorado (CU) College of Nursing Alumni Association.

Dean Swanson, an alumna of the CU Nursing PhD program, is a highly regarded nurse-scholar whose Theory of Caring has been adopted internationally as a theoretical framework for research, health care delivery and nursing education.

The Swanson 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. The Theory of Caring provides much needed guidance for the advancement of nursing science and for the quality of nursing practice in clinical settings. Swanson’s contributions to nursing science, practice and education have improved the profession globally—especially in the state of Washington.

Swanson has been dean of the College of Nursing since 2014 and is the current chair of the Board of Trustees of Swedish Health System. Previously, she served as dean and Alumni Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina (UNC)–Chapel Hill School of Nursing and Associate Chief Nursing Officer for Academic Affairs at UNC Hospitals. For nearly 22 years, she served on the faculty at the University of Washington School of Nursing.

Known for her research on pregnancy loss, Swanson has published more than 100 articles and book chapters and provided hundreds of refereed and invited presentations and consultations to advance nursing practice, education and research.

Swanson’s professional achievements and awards are numerous. They include:

  • Receipt of local, regional and federal training and research funding that has advanced knowledge of the impact of perinatal loss on the health of women and their families.

  • Induction as a Fellow into the American Academy of Nursing.

  • Selection as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Executive Nurse Fellow (2004-07), an advanced leadership initiative for nurses in senior executive roles who aspire to lead and shape the future of the U.S. health care system.

  • Served two terms on the American Association of Colleges of Nursing Board of Directors.

  • Served two years on the National Advisory Committee for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholar Program.

  • Served three years on the International Scientific Advisory Board Kings College, London, Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery.

  • Inducted into the Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA) Hall of Fame, which recognizes achievements that will endure beyond the lifetime of inductees.

Dean Swanson will receive her Lifetime Achievement Award alongside fellow honored University of Colorado alumni on June 23 in Denver.

Learn more about the awards.