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Kathleen Fisher

Contact Information

  • 267.359.5821
  • 267.359.5843 F
  • Health Sciences Building, Room 10W52

Kathleen Fisher



Graduate Nursing
Nursing PhD
Advanced Practice Nursing

Kathleen Fisher, PhD, CRNP, is a tenured nursing professor, a skilled clinician and educator. She has over 35 years of clinical nursing experience, most of those working with underserved populations as a certified registered nurse practitioner (CRNP) specializing in the family. Her commitment as a nurse is to provide compassionate, holistic, person-centered care to all people, inclusive of at-risk populations, like people with memory loss, dementia and people experiencing an intellectual or developmental disability (IDD). Fisher’s research centers on the needs of these underserved and at risk populations, and provides an opportunity to explore and examine issues of concern to people who are marginalized by society or experience stigma because of their illness or disability.

Fisher has been a principal investigator (PI) or co-investigator on several funded studies including: federal, state and foundation grants. Working within a model advancing research, education and clinical practice, she utilizes a transformative emancipatory paradigm that employs participatory action research strategies. This means that Fisher leads transdisciplinary groups in the practice of team science, with the mission of empowering others (e.g. individuals, families, clients) toward change. A goal of her research is to support at-risk groups, by respecting and understanding difference, while enabling them to realize their full potential in health situations. Fisher’s transformative approach supports the development of strong academic-clinical and research partnerships with community partners to create relevant research, clinical experiences and internship opportunities for interprofessional students at Drexel University.

Fisher is the author or coauthor of more than 50 publications, a position paper for the American Nurses Association Ethics Advisory Board, coeditor of a 2016 book, and author or coauthor of over 75 published conference abstracts and proceedings at national and international research conferences. Her scholarship has focused on health outcomes, health promotion, quality of life and advocacy with at-risk, diverse populations.

Academic Distinctions

At the invitation of the ethics advisory board of the American Nurses Association (ANA), Fisher cowrote a position statement entitled Nurses’ Role in Providing Ethically and Developmentally Appropriate Care to Persons with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (December 2019). For that work, she received a certificate of appreciation from the ANA. Working with three nationally known nurse ethicists, and building on our experiences with the ANA position statement they recently published, “A Nurses’ Ethical Commitment to People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities” in Nursing Ethics, an international journal for healthcare professionals.

As an NIH funded researcher, Fisher has explored decision making by proxy across the state of Pennsylvania for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). With funding from the Health Research Formula Fund (i.e. Tobacco Fund), she studied the parents’ perspective and future care planning for those with I/DD. This qualitative phenomenology received an international research prize. Along with two other Drexel faculty, and with funding by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), they convened a conference culminating in a coedited book titled Creating Integrated Healthcare Services for People with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Fisher was a featured nurse on the Philadelphia Coordinated Health Care (PCHC) web page. PCHC is a core program of the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health/Intellectual disAbility Services, the Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery County Offices of Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities and the Office of Developmental Programs, Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.

Professional Society

International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IASSID); the Developmental Disabilities Nursing Association; an affiliate trainer and member of the National Task Group on Intellectual Disabilities and Dementia; aResearch Council for the Developmental Disabilities Nursing Association.

Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, and Eastern Nursing Research Society.

Selected Publications

Fisher, K., Robichaux, C., Sauerland, J. & Stokes, L. (2020). A Nurse’s Ethical Commitment to Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Nursing Ethics 27(4)

ANA Center for Ethics and Human Rights. (December, 2019) Nurse’s Role in Providing Ethically and Developmentally Appropriate Care to People With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Desroches, M., Ailey, S., Fisher, K. & Stych, J. (In press). Impact of COVID-19: Nursing challenges to meeting the care needs of people with developmental disabilities (DD). Disability and Health Journal.

Fisher, K, Bonacquisti, L. Alhazmi, R. Shattuck, M. & Parker, P. (in Review).  Strategies for Healthy Brain Aging:  Exercise.  Journal of Gerontological Nursing.

Giarelli, E., Fisher, K., Wilson, L., Bonacquisti, L., Chornobroff, M., DiPietro, A. M., Weiss, M. J., & Bannett, G. (in Review). Clinical tools for improving task completion and quality of the interaction between nurses and adult patients with autism spectrum disorder: Results of a pilot. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Grant participation:

Fisher, K., DiMaria-Ghalilli, R.A., Milliron, B.J., Deutsch, J. & Bonacquisti, L. Strategies for Healthy Brain Aging: Food for Thought. Drexel Areas of Research Excellence (DARE)
Grant Award: $7,000 Funding Period: 05/01/2020 – 04/30/2021 Role: PI

Deutsch, J., DiMaria-Ghalili, R.A., Milliron, B.J., Fisher, K. & Pappas, D. Functional Ice Cream Alternative to Oral Nutrition Supplements Coulter Translational Research Partnership
Grant Award: $165,000 Funding Period: 07/01/2020 - 12/31/2021 Role: Co-I

Bonacquisti,L., Fisher, K., Shifrin, S. & Gracely, E. Move2Be program: Measuring workplace resilience in long term care. Cell2Society Aging Research.Net DARE
Grant Award: $2,000 Funding Period: 7/1/2020 – 6/30/2021 Role Co-PI

Baer, L., Finley M. & Fisher, K. Looking to the Future: Exploring Aging with Spinal Cord Injury. Cell2Society Aging Research.Net DARE
Grant Award: $2,000 Funding Period: 7/1/2020 – 6/30/2021 Role Co-I.

DiMaria-Ghalili, R.A., Gitlin, L., Clark, K. & 20 Drexel Research Network Members. (2019-2020) Cell2Society Aging Research.Net DARE Drexel Area Research Excellence (DARE)
Grant Award: $250,000 Role: Steering committee: responsible for managing the administration & research deliverables.

Giarelli, E., Fisher, K & Wilson L. Developing Algorithms of Nursing Care for Hospitalized Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Working for Inclusive and Transformative Healthcare WITH Foundation.
Grant Award: $45,000 Funding Period: 01/11/19 – 10/ 31/20. Role: Co-I.

Fisher, K, Gonzalez, E. & Gracely, E. (2018-2019) Strategies for Brain Healthy Aging in a Life Plan Community Deans R3 Rapid Response Grant.
Grant award: $5,000. Funding Period. 01/4/19-3/31/20. Role: PI

Research Interests

Dr. Fisher’s research focuses on decision making in vulnerable populations i.e. individuals with intellectual disability. She has completed an NIH (i.e. National Institutes of Nursing Research) study (2005-2008) assessing decision making by proxy for individuals with intellectual disability. Dr Fisher utilizes mixed methods in her research. She completed a phenomenology in 2008 funded by the Health Research Formula Fund i.e. Tobacco Fund, to study the parents perspective in health care decision making for those with intellectual disability in Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg, PA
School of Public Affairs
Doctor of Philosophy - 1997
Dissertation: Assessing Integration in Health Care Systems: A Study of Two Emergency Services Departments.

University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Master of Science Degree in Nursing – 1980
Concentration: Family Nurse Practitioner Graduated – Cum Laude

Trenton State College, Trenton, NJ
(Now – The College of New Jersey)
Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing – 1978
Graduated – Cum Laude

Chestnut Hill Hospital, Philadelphia, PA
Registered Nurse Diploma Program
Graduated 1975