Sean Clarke


Sean Clarke Headshot

Sean Clarke


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 coauthored 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)
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., 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)


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

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Nurses’ judgments of patient risk of deterioration at change-of-shift handoff: Agreement between nurses and comparison with early warning scores

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Nursing handoffs and clinical judgments regarding patient risk of deterioration: A mixed-methods study

Lavoie, P., Clarke, S. P., Clausen, C., Purden, M., Emed, J., Cosencova, L., & Frunchak, V. (2020). Journal of Clinical Nursing, 29(19), 3790-3801. 10.1111/jocn.15409
Aims and objectives: To explore how change-of-shift handoffs relate to nurses' clinical judgments regarding patient risk of deterioration. Background: The transfer of responsibility for patients' care comes with an exchange of information about their condition during change-of-shift handoff. However, it is unclear how this exchange affects nurses' clinical judgments regarding patient risk of deterioration. Design: A sequential explanatory mixed-methods study reported according to the STROBE and COREQ guidelines. Methods: Over four months, 62 nurses from one surgical and two medical units at a single Canadian hospital recorded their handoffs at change of shift. After each handoff, the two nurses involved each rated the patient's risk of experiencing cardiac arrest or being transferred to an intensive care unit in the next 24 hr separately. The information shared in handoffs was subjected to content analysis; code frequencies were contrasted per nurses' ratings of patient risk to identify characteristics of information that facilitated or hindered nurses' agreement. Results: Out of 444 recorded handoffs, there were 125 in which at least one nurse judged that a patient was at risk of deterioration; nurses agreed in 32 cases (25.6%) and disagreed in 93 (74.4%). These handoffs generally included information on abnormal vital signs, breathing problems, chest pain, alteration of mental status or neurological symptoms. However, the quantity and seriousness of clinical cues, recent transfers from intensive care units, pain without a clear cause, signs of delirium and nurses' knowledge of patient were found to affect nurses' agreement. Conclusions: Nurses exchanged more information regarding known indicators of deterioration in handoffs when they judged that patients were at risk. Disagreements most often involved incoming nurses rating patient risk as higher. Relevance to clinical practice: This study suggests a need to sensitise nurses to the impact of certain cues at report on their colleagues' subsequent clinical judgments. Low levels of agreement between nurses underscore the importance of exchanging impressions regarding the likely evolution of a patient's situation to promote continuity of care.

Association of State-Level Restrictions in Nurse Practitioner Scope of Practice With the Quality of Primary Care Provided to Medicare Beneficiaries

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Debriefing approaches for high-fidelity simulations and outcomes related to clinical judgment in baccalaureate nursing students

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Acceptability and feasibility of recruitment and data collection in a field study of hospital nurses' handoffs using mobile devices

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Adding unregulated nursing support workers to ward staffing: Exploration of a natural experiment

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Van Bogaert, P., & Clarke, S. (2018). In The Organizational Context of Nursing Practice: Organization of nursing work and the psychosocial experience of nurses (pp. 5-47). Springer International Publishing. 10.1007/978-3-319-71042-6_2
In this chapter, the intuitive link between balanced, healthy, and supportive psychosocial work environments and a variety of vitally important patient, nurse, and organizational outcomes is discussed with reference to a number of clearly defined and well-researched concepts. Among the essential concepts that ground the rest of the book is the notion of a bundle of factors that provide a context for nurses' work and are known collectively as the practice environment. Landmark studies that focused specifically on nurses' experiences of their work environments in exemplary hospitals examined so-called Magnet hospitals, leading to a framework that describes the practice environment and its linkage with professional well-being, occupational stress, and quality of practice and productivity. Many ideas and models have obvious connections to the notion of practice environment such as Job Demand- Control-Support model, worklife dimensions and burnout, concepts related to burnout such as compassion fatigue, and work engagement as a mirror image concept of burnout, as well as notions of empowerment and authentic leadership. These concepts have been chosen for discussion here based on critical masses of evidence pointing to their usefulness in healthcare management and specifically in the management of nursing services. Together all of these concepts and supporting research and scholarship speak to a common point: intentional leadership approaches, grounded in a comprehensive understanding of nurses' psychosocial experiences of their work, are essential to nurses' abilities to respond to complex patients' needs in rapidly changing healthcare contexts and socioeconomic conditions.

Effect of transformational leadership on job satisfaction and patient safety outcomes

Boamah, S. A., Spence Laschinger, H. K., Wong, C., & Clarke, S. (2018). Nursing Outlook, 66(2), 180-189. 10.1016/j.outlook.2017.10.004
Background: Improving patient safety within health care organizations requires effective leadership at all levels. Purpose: The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of nurse managers’ transformational leadership behaviors on job satisfaction and patient safety outcomes. Methods: A random sample of acute care nurses in Ontario (N = 378) completed the crosssectional survey. Hypothesized model was tested using structural equation modeling. Finding: The model fit the data acceptably. Transformational leadership had a strong positive influence on workplace empowerment, which in turn increased nurses’ job satisfaction and decreased the frequency of adverse patient outcomes. Subsequently, job satisfaction was related to lower adverse events. Conclusion: The findings provide support for managers’ use of transformational leadership behaviors as a useful strategy in creating workplace conditions that promote better safety outcomes for patients and nurses.