Donna Fick, Ph.D., GCNS-BC, FGSA, FAAN

photo of Donna Fick

Distinguished Professor of Nursing
Professor of Medicine
Co-director, Hartford Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence at Penn State
Editor, Journal of Gerontological Nursing

Contact Information

306 Nursing Sciences Building
University Park PA 16802-6509


(fax) 814-865-6625


Ph.D., 1997, University of California at San Francisco
M.S., Nursing Science, 1990, Major in Gerontological Nursing, University of Cincinnati
B.S.N., Nursing Science, 1986, Berea College

Research Interests


  • Inappropriate medication use in older adults
  • Delirium in persons with dementia
  • Clinical and health outcomes in managed care

Funded Research Projects

Current Research

Principal Investigator. Early Nurse Detection of Delirium Superimposed on Dementia-END-DSD. National Institute of Nursing Research,
1 R01NR011042-01A1. Total Award Amount: $2,763,911.
April 1, 2010-February 28, 2015.

Multiple PI's. RESERVE For Delirium Superimposed on Dementia (DSD). NINR R01 NR012242, 9/09/10- 6/30/15. Ann Kolanowski & Donna Fick (MPI). Information on the project can be found at the NIH RePorter web site.

The purpose of this RCT is to test the efficacy of cognitive stimulation, in the form of recreational activities, for resolving DSD. This is a 5-year $2,405,344 grant (9/09/10- 6/30/15) that will be conducted in rehabilitation sites across Pennsylvania. Other investigators include: Dr. Doug Leslie, College of Medicine, Penn State University; Dr. Mark Litaker, University of Alabama; Dr. Linda Clare, Bangor University, UK; Dr. Malaz Boustani, Indiana University; and Dr. Keith Whitfield, Duke University.

Completed Research

Co-Investigator. eCare for Eldercare. Funded by Children Youth and Family Services, Penn State. Total Award Amount: $23,000 ($3,000 from Smart Spaces), Jan 2010-December 2010. PI: Vittal Prabhu, Industrial Engineering Penn State.

Co-Investigator: Innovation for Delirium Superimposed on Dementia: The IMPACT-DSD Pilot Project. Funded by Social Science Reseearch Institute Penn State and Smart Spaces Initiative, 2008-2009. PI: A. Kolanowski.

Principal Investigator: Delirium in persons with dementia. Project funded by NIH/NIA, 2006-2008.

Principal Investigator: Central nervous system-active drug use and delirium in community-dwelling persons with dementia: Retrospective study utilizing administrative data to describe the pattern and health outcomes of CNS-active drug use in persons with dementia. Project funded by Penn State College of Health and Human Development Seed Grant, 2004-2006.

Principal Investigator: Japanese Version of the Beers Criteria. Subcontract through Asahikawa Medical College: Pfizer Health Research Foundation, 2004-2006.

Co-Investigator: Utilization and outcomes in bariatric surgery in a managed care organization. Center for Healthcare Improvement/Blue Cross Blue Shield, 2004-2006

Principal Investigator: Center for Healthcare Improvement. Project funded by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia, 2004.

Co-investigator: Accountability and health safety: A statewide approach. AHRQ Federal Grant, 2002-2005.

Co-investigator/Evaluator: Rural Health Telemedicine Grant Program (MCG subcontract). Project funded by HRSA Office for the Advancement of Telehealth, 2002-2006

Co-Principal Investigator: Pharmaceutical outcomes research program. CIGP UGA-MCG Inter-institutional grant, 2001-2003.

Principal Investigator: Delirium superimposed on dementia in hospitalized older adults. Project funded by Department of Veterans Affairs, Atlanta-Alabama VISN-7 GEC grant, 2002-2003

Principal Investigator:Potentially inappropriate medication use in the elderly: Updating and validation of the Beers criteria. MCG/UGA Combined Intramural Grants Program Award, 2001-2002.

Principal Investigator: A randomized trial to decrease the use of high risk, potentially inappropriate medications in older adults in a managed care setting. Funded by Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Georgia, 2000-2001.

Principal Investigator: Delirium superimposed on dementia in hospitalized older adults. Research Career Development VISN-7 Award, Veterans Administration Medical Center, 1998-2002.

Principal Investigator: Impact of outpatient polypharmacy in the elderly on process and resource utilization. Funded by Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Georgia and Medical College of Georgia Center for Health Care Improvement, 1998-2000.



Editor, Journal of Gerontological Nursing


John A. Hartford Geriatric Nursing Research Award, Eastern Nursing Research Society

Fellow American Academy of Nursing (FAAN). Inducted as a Fellow during the Academy's 36th Annual Meeting on November 7, 2009 in Atlanta, GA


Fran and Holly Soistman Faculty Development Award for Innovative Research in Healthcare, Penn State, College of Health and Human Development


Fellow, Gerontological Society of America

Springer Award in Geriatric Nursing for Publication in Applied Nursing Research, Springer Publishing Company


Eli Lilly Healthcare Improvement Award, Co-recipient with BCBS of Georgia


Elizabeth L. Kemble Excellence in Research and Practice University of Cincinnati Alumni Award


UCSF Regents Academic Fellowship Award


Professional Nurse Traineeship

Selected Publications

A. M. Yevchak, D. M. Fick, J. McDowell, T. Monroe, K. May, L. Grove, A. M. Kolanowski, J. L. Waller, and S. K. Inouye. 2013. Barriers and facilitators to implementing delirium rounds in a clinical trial across three diverse hospital settings. Clinical Nursing Research, October 11 (e-pub ahead of print).

D. M. Fick, B. DiMeglio, J. A. McDowell, J. Mathis-Halpin. 2013. Do you know your patient? Knowing individuals with dementia combined with evidence-based care promotes function and satisfaction in hospitalized older adults. Journal of Gerontological Nursing 39(9):2–4. doi: 10.3928/00989134-20130809-89.

A. Morandi, E. Vasilevskis, P. P. Pandharipande, T. D. Girard, L. M. Solberg, E. B. Neal, T. Koestner, R. E. Torres, J. L. Thompson, A. K. Shintani, J. H. Han, J. F. Schnelle, D. M. Fick, E. W. Ely, and S. Kripalani. 2013. Inappropriate medication prescriptions in elderly adults surviving an intensive care unit hospitalization. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 61(7):1128–34. doi: 10.1111/jgs.12329.

J. McCrow, E. Beattie, K. Sullivan, and D. M. Fick. 2013. Development and review of vignettes representing older people with cognitive impairment. Geriatric Nursing 34(2):128–37. doi: 10.1016/j.gerinurse.2012.12.012. (Invited)

D. M. Fick, M. Steis, J. L. Waller, and S. K. Inouye. 2013. Delirium superimposed on demenetia is associated with prolonged length of stay and poor outcomes in hospitalized older adults. Journal of Hospital Medicine 8(9):500–505.

D. Fick and B. Resnick. 2013. The Choosing Wisely Campaign® and nurses' role in dissemination. Journal of Gerontological Nursing 39(5):4–6. doi: 10.3928/00989134-20130417-01.

A. M. Kolanowski, D. M. Fick, A. M. Yevchak, N. Hill, P. M. Mulhall, and J. McDowell. 2012. Pay Attention! The critical importance of assessing attention in older adults with dementia. Journal of Gerontological Nursing 38(11):23–27.

A. Morandi, J. McCurley, E. E. Vasilevskis, D. M. Fick, G. Bellelli, P. Lee, J. C. Jackson, S. D. Shenkin, M. Trabucchi, J. Schnelle, S. K. Inouye, E. W. Ely, and A. Maclullich. 2012. Tools to detect delirium superimposed on dementia: A systematic review. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 60(11):2005–2013.

M. R. Steis and D. M. Fick. 2012. Delirium superimposed on dementia: Accuracy of nurse documentation. Journal of Gerontological Nursing 38(1):32–42.

D. M. Fick and T. Semla. 2012. American Geriatrics Society Beers Criteria: New year, new criteria, new perspective. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. To appear in Wiley-Blackwell (March).