Karen Harden, DNP, RN, AOCNS, NC-BC

Clinical Assistant Professor
Undergraduate Coordinator for Medical Surgical Nursing Education
Department of Systems, Populations and Leadership
Room 4108 NURS2

University of Michigan School of Nursing
400 North Ingalls Building
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Telephone: (734) 674-7157
Fax: (734) 936-5525


  • Palliative Care
  • Bone marrow transplant
  • Oncology
  • Nurse Coaching
  • Teaching and Support for Students

Dr. Harden is a leader in clinical practice and teaching. She has focused her nursing career on advancing clinical practice, quality care, and patient and staff education in the areas of hematology, oncology, bone marrow transplant and palliative care. In her previous role as clinical nurse specialist, she worked with nurses on clinical practice initiatives on topics such as falls, sleep disturbances, cardiac monitoring, early palliative care for bone marrow transplant patients, oral care, and prevention of CLABSIs. Dr. Harden has been involved with the facilitation and teaching of the Oncology Core course and teaching in the Chemotherapy Course and Central Nurse Orientation. In addition, she has been invited to lecture in a variety of conference settings (Oncology Nursing Society, American Cancer Society, U of M Evidence Based Practice conference), including an all-day seminar about Hematologic Malignancies for Michigan Case Management Nurses through Michigan State University. At the School of Nursing, she is the Coordinator for Medical Surgical Nursing Education and supports faculty, students, and content delivery in the Nursing Therapies courses at all levels. In this role she is a mentor and consultant to new faculty and is dedicated to incorporating teaching practices that maximize the student’s ability to use their knowledge and clinical judgment in the practice setting.

Dr. Harden is a board-certified nurse coach working with the Healthy Lifetime program for her clinical practice. Healthy Lifetime (HL) is a person-centered, science-based nurse coaching program that works with individuals to enhance self-care, independence, and quality of life. In this role she meets one to one with community members to coach them through the process of making the healthy changes they want to see in their life. In addition to her continued learning of coaching strategies, she is co-facilitating the nurse coach training program as new coaches learn to be part of the HL program.

Current Research Grants and Programs

  • Palliative Care Education Initiatives
  • Healthy Lifetime Nurse Coaching Research Program


Dr. Harden has been active in the role as Clinical Assistant Professor. In her teaching role, she has focused her efforts in the areas of Oncology Nursing and Palliative Care. She teaches senior complex care students the art and science of oncology nursing and many of her students have gone on to become oncology nurses themselves. Supporting students in the clinical setting is of utmost importance so they can learn, think, and grow in a positive environment. She is dedicated to teaching students, nurses and patients about palliative care and the benefits it provides for quality of life in the face of serious illness. She is a co-developer and instructor of the health science elective called Exploring Palliative care and works with interdisciplinary colleagues to bring evidence-based content to students. This course utilizes a multi-modal approach to palliative care education, so it includes lecture, group discussion, open discussion, active learning strategies, reflection, simulation and writing elements during this student favored offering.

Affiliations / Service

  • Nurse Coach, Research Assistant and Training Facilitator, Healthy Lifetime Research Initiative 2019 - present
  • Co-Chair, Michigan Medicine Palliative Care Education Committee 2021 - present (member, 2018 -2021)
  • Co-Chair, Palliative Care Conference and Core Curriculum Committee
  • Member, Foundational Course Initiative Grant, Pharmacology
  • Member, Planning Committee for Geriatric and Palliative Care Conference Committee - University of Michigan and Ann Arbor VA 2021
  • Member, Marge Calarco Endowment Lectureship Conference 2019 - present
  • Member, Palliative Care Champions 2023 - present
  • Member, Recharge Room Steering Committee 2021 - present
  • President, Oncology Nursing Society Ann Arbor Chapter 2019 - 2021
  • Member, Oncology Nursing Society 1989 – present

Notable Awards / Honors

  • Advanced Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist (AOCNS) – (2005 – present) Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation
  • Blood and Marrow Transplant Certified Nurse (BMTCN) – (April 2014 – 2018) Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation
  • Board Certified Nurse Coach (NC-BC) - (2023 - present)
  • Faculty DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nursing Faculty in Memory of J. Patrick Barnes (2019)


  • DNP, Duke University, Durham, NC, 2017
  • MS, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 1991
  • BSN, Hope College, Holland, MI 1988

Publication Highlights

  • Butterworth, S., Potempa, S., Laughlin, C., Flaherty-Robb M., Calarco, M., Harden, K., Schmidt, P., & Potempa, K. (2022). Case studies: Person-centered health coaching in people with social determinants of health. Sumbitted for publication.

  • Potempa, K., Calarco, M., Flaherty-Robb, M., Butterworth, S., Isaman, D., Potempa, S., Laughlin, C., Schmidt, P., Struble, L., Harden, K., Ghosh, B., Furspan, P., & Ellis, A. (2022). Healthy lifetime: A randomized trial of virtual health coaching for older adultsSubmitted for publication.

  • Potempa, K., Butterworth, S., Flaherty-Robb, M., Calarco, M., Marriott, D., Ghosh, B., Gabarda, A., Windsor, J., Potempa, S., Laughlin, C., Harden, K., Schmidt, P., Ellis, A., & Furspan, P. (2023). The impace of nurse health coaching strategies on cognitive-behavioral outcomes in older adults. Internationl Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 20(1), 416. doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20010416

  • Harden, K. L., Mason, H., Price, D., & Bigelow, A. (2022). Learning the art of palliative care through simuation. Submitted for publication.

  • Harden, K. & Prochnow, L. (2023). Clinical judgment measurement model helps maximize case-based didactice and clinical learning. Nurse Educator. doi: 10.1097/NNE.0000000000001380 

  • Harden, K. L., Price, D. M., Bigelow, A. D., & Mason, H. L. (in press). Phases and transitions of serious illness: A structure for teaching palliative care. Journal of Nursing Education.

  • Flaherty-Robb, M>, Calarco, M., Butterworth, S., Struble, S., Harden K., Franklin, M., Potempa, S., Laughlin, C., Schmidt, P., Policichio, J., Yakusheva, O., Isaman, D., Gallagher, N. A., Furspan, P., & Potempa, K. (2022). Healthy lifetime (HL): An internet-based behavioral health coaching protocol for olders adults. Frontiers Digital Health. doi: 10.3389/fdgth.2022.795827. PMID: 35529316

  • Price, D., Bigelow, A., Mason, H., & Harden, K. (2022). Running on empty: Diminished empathetic reserve in front line nurses. Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing, 24(2), 132-139. 

  • Mason, H., Price, D., Bigelow, A., & Harden, K. (2022). Multilevel classroom learning prepares nurses for future collaboration in palliative care. International Journal of Palliative Nursing, 28(9), 401-405.

  • Bigelow, A., Price, D., Mason, H., & Harden, K. (2022). Teaching in times of crisis with a palliative care lens. Nursing Education Perspectives, 43(5), 335-336.

  • Bigelow, A., Price, D., Mason, H., & Harden, K. (2021). Integration of palliative care into primary care - preliminary data: Identification of knowledge deficits and next steps. The University of Michigan Department of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine Research Series. Ann Arbor, MI. October, 2021.

  • Harden, K. L., Wall, P., Galunas, L., & Eastman, D. J. (2021). Managing falls: Implementation of a three-intervention initiative to improve quality of care for patients with cancer. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, 25(2), 188-193.

  • Harden, K., Price, D. M., Mason, H., & Bigelow, A. (2020). COVID-19 shones a spotlight on the age-old problem of social isolation. Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing22(6), 1-7. 

  • Harden, K. L., Price, D., Duffy, E., Galunas, L., & Rodgers, C. (2017). Palliative care: Improving nurses knowledge, attitudes and behaviors in palliative care. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, 21(5), E232-E238. doi: 10.1188/17.c.jon.E232-E238

  • Harden, K. L. & Schembri, J. A. (2016). Early intervention with transplantation recipients to improve access to and knowledge of palliative care. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, 20(4), E88-E92, doi: 10.1188/16.cjon.e88-e92

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