Sean Clarke


Sean Clarke Headshot

Sean Clarke


Ursula Springer Professor in Nursing Leadership
Executive Vice Dean

1 212 998 5264

Sean Clarke's additional information

Sean Clarke, RN, PhD, FAAN, is the executive vice dean and a professor at NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing. His research focuses on quality and safety issues in acute care hospitals, workforce issues, occupational safety of nurses, and the influences of economic and political factors on healthcare delivery and the nursing profession. He is perhaps best known for research on nurse staffing in hospitals and surveys of nurse working conditions. He has authored or co-authored over 100 peer-reviewed articles and 30 book chapters. Clarke has been a principal investigator on projects supported by the National Institute of Nursing Research, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and has served as a co-investigator on grants totaling over $10 million over the course of his career. In addition to teaching nursing, health policy, and research at the baccalaureate through doctoral levels, he also supervises PhD and postdoctoral research trainees and maintains a program of research with colleagues from a number of countries. 

Clarke has been a member of a variety of panels and boards related to health research and healthcare quality. He has had extensive involvement in peer review of research articles and grants and served on editorial boards of a number of scientific and professional journals in nursing and health services research. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and currently holds affiliate faculty appointments at the Université de Montréal and the University of Hong Kong.

Prior to joining the faculty at NYU Meyers, he was a professor and associate dean in the Undergraduate Program at the Connell School of Nursing, Boston College, from 20142018. He was also on faculty at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing for seven years, held an endowed chair in cardiovascular nursing at the University of Toronto, and was an endowed chair directing a special donor-funded set of projects intended to advance collaboration between the School of Nursing and its affiliated teaching hospitals at McGill University. He also co-directed nursing health services and workforce research groups in Philadelphia and Toronto and has been a consultant to clinicians, leaders, and professional associations on issues related to nursing and patient safety for almost two decades in Canada, the United States, and internationally. 

Clarke completed his basic clinical and research training in nursing at McGill University, in Montreal, Canada, and pursued a nurse practitioner education and a postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. He holds BA and BS degrees from the University of Ottawa and Carleton University, in his hometown of Ottawa, Canada.

PhD - McGill University School of Nursing
MS - McGill University School of Nursing
BA - Carleton University
BS - University of Ottawa

Nursing workforce
Adult health
Nursing administration
Health Policy

Faculty Honors Awards

Creative Teaching Award, Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University of Toronto (2011)
Dean’s Award for Undergraduate Teaching, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (2007)
Junior Faculty Research Award, Biobehavioral and Health Sciences Division School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania (2006)
Fellow, American Academy of Nursing (2006)
Class of 1965 25th Reunion Term Chair, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing [for enduring contributions to undergraduate education] (2006)
American Academy of Nursing Media Award for coverage of Aiken, Clarke et al., JAMA, October 23/30, 2002 (2003)
Article of the Year, Academy Health [Academy for Health Services Research and Health Policy] for Aiken, Clarke et al., JAMA, October 23/30, 2002 (2003)
American Academy of Nursing Media Award for coverage of Aiken, Clarke, et al. Health Affairs, 2001 (2002)
Induction into Sigma Theta Tau, Xi Chapter (1999)


Discontent in Nurse Academics: An Emerging High-Stakes Problem

Clarke, S. (2023). Nursing Outlook, 71(5). 10.1016/j.outlook.2023.102065

Greetings from the middle of a fast-moving river

Clarke, S. (2023). Nursing Outlook, 71(2). 10.1016/j.outlook.2023.101968

The number one challenge facing the nursing profession—A need for a fresh look

Clarke, S. (2023). Nursing Outlook, 71(3). 10.1016/j.outlook.2023.102005

Nurses and Health Policy: Time for a Look Inward and a Deeper Dive?

Clarke, S. (2023). Nursing Outlook, 71(4). 10.1016/j.outlook.2023.102034

Toward a Stronger Post-Pandemic Nursing Workforce

Buerhaus, P., Fraher, E., Frogner, B., Buntin, M., O’reilly-Jacob, M., & Clarke, S. (2023). New England Journal of Medicine, 389(3), 200-202. 10.1056/NEJMp2303652

Educators’ Perceptions of the Development of Clinical Judgment of Direct-Entry Students and Experienced RNs Enrolled in NP Programs

Lavoie, P., & Clarke, S. P. (2022). Journal of Nursing Regulation, 12(4), 4-15. 10.1016/S2155-8256(22)00011-4
Background: Nurse practitioner (NP) education was originally reserved for experienced nurses, but it has gradually opened to nurses with little to no clinical experience at the registered nurse (RN) level as well as to non-nurses. The existence of multiple paths to NP training and practice raises questions about the role of generalist RN experience in learning clinical decision-making and other aspects of the NP role. Purpose: To describe educators’ perceptions of the role of prior nursing experience in the development of clinical judgment during NP graduate education. Methods: In this qualitative descriptive study, 27 NP faculty from four universities participated in individual interviews. Transcripts were analyzed using a thematic approach. Results: According to participants, previous nursing experience—or any relevant experience—can either be helpful or detrimental in the development of NP students’ clinical judgment. Three themes were generated: variations in students’ baseline knowledge and skills, different frames of reference to grasp new content and skills, and challenges related to professional identity. In addition, participants described factors that they believe can affect the impact of different types of experience. Conclusion: Students with and without prior nursing experience face distinct challenges in learning NP-level clinical decision-making and judgment, but they reach similar end-of-program competence. Educators are confronted with contradictions between generally held wisdom, their professional socialization, and first-hand observations regarding the role of experience (inside and outside nursing) in preparing students to become NPs.

Evaluating Policy

Clarke, S. P., & Logan, P. (2022). In Nurses Making Policy: Structures, Processes, and Outcomes (1–, pp. 357-390). Springer Publishing Company.

The nurse workforce

Clarke, S. P. (2021). In Nurses Contributions to Quality Health Outcomes (1–, pp. 39-60). Springer International Publishing. 10.1007/978-3-030-69063-2_3
The nurse workforce-the nurses available to provide care to a group of patients or a population and the characteristics of these nurses-provides a critical context for the Quality Health Outcomes Model (QHOM). This chapter begins with a brief consideration of workforce issues within the QHOM. Two forces at the heart of workforce analysis (supply and demand) and how these forces play out in various arenas for nursing practice are discussed. This chapter does not focus on managers' decisions regarding coverage of patient care responsibilities by nursing staff and nursing personnel qualifications, which fall within the realm of staffing (see Chaps. 4 and 13). Instead, it will focus on the size and composition of the body of nurses providing care, the forces that influence this body of nurses, and how workforce parameters act as an element of context for staffing, practice environments, and nursing care delivery. The chapter concludes with discussions of ongoing and emerging trends likely to influence the nurse workforce, especially in relation to healthcare quality and safety considerations.

Nurses' experience of handoffs on four Canadian medical and surgical units: A shared accountability for knowing and safeguarding the patient

Lavoie, P., Clausen, C., Purden, M., Emed, J., Frunchak, V., & Clarke, S. P. (2021). Journal of Advanced Nursing, 77(10), 4156-4169. 10.1111/jan.14997
Aims: To explore nurses' experience and describe how they manage various contextual factors affecting the nurse-to-nurse handoff at change of shift. Design: Qualitative descriptive study. Methods: A convenience sample of 51 nurses from four medical and surgical care units at a university-affiliated hospital in Montreal, Canada, participated in one of the 19 focus group interviews from November 2017 to January 2018. Data were analysed through a continuous and iterative process of thematic analysis. Results: Analysis of the data generated a core theme of ‘sharing accountability for knowing and safeguarding the patient’ that is achieved through actions related to nurses' role in the exchange. Specifically, the outgoing nurse takes actions to ensure continuity of care when letting go, and the incoming nurse takes actions to provide seamless care when taking over. In both roles, nurses navigate each handoff juncture by mutually adjusting, ensuring attentiveness, managing judgements, keeping on track, and venting and debriefing. Handoff is also shaped by contextual conditions related to handoff norms and practices, the nursing environment, individual nurse attributes and patient characteristics. Conclusions: This study generated a conceptualization of nurses' roles and experience that details the relationship among the elements and conditions that shape nurse-to-nurse handoffs. Impact: Nursing handoff involves the communication of patient information and relational behaviours that support the exchange. Although many factors are known to influence handoffs, little was known about nurses' experience of dealing with these at the point of care. This study contributed a comprehensive conceptualization of nursing handoff that could be useful in identifying areas for quality improvement and guiding future educational efforts.

Top priorities for the next decade of nursing health services research

Cohen, C. C., Barnes, H., Buerhaus, P. I., Martsolf, G. R., Clarke, S. P., Donelan, K., & Tubbs-Cooley, H. L. (2021). Nursing Outlook, 69(3), 265-275. 10.1016/j.outlook.2020.12.004
Background: The U.S. health care system faces increasing pressures for reform. The importance of nurses in addressing health care delivery challenges cannot be overstated. Purpose: To present a Nursing Health Services Research (NHSR) agenda for the 2020s. Method: A meeting of an interdisciplinary group of 38 health services researchers to discuss five key challenges facing health care delivery (behavioral health, primary care, maternal/neonatal outcomes, the aging population, health care spending) and identify the most pressing and feasible research questions for NHSR in the coming decade. Findings: Guided by a list of inputs affecting health care delivery (health information technology, workforce, delivery systems, payment, social determinants of health), meeting participants identified 5 to 6 research questions for each challenge. Also, eight cross-cutting themes illuminating the opportunities and barriers facing NHSR emerged. Discussion: The Agenda can act as a foundation for new NHSR – which is more important than ever – in the 2020s.