Faculty & Staff Profile

Faculty/Staff Profile

Karen A. Grigsby, RN, PhD
Associate Professor
Interim Director, MSN program
Coordinator, Nursing Administration Specialty

Contact Information
University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC)
College of Nursing - Omaha Division
985330 Nebraska Medical Center
Omaha, NE 68198-5330
tel: (402) 559-6622
E-Mail: kgrigsby@unmc.edu


  • Dr. Grigsby received her BSN from the University of Cincinnati in 1969. She graduated from the University of Colorado in 1973 with a Master of Science degree in nursing and received her PhD in nursing at the University of Texas at Austin in 1988.
  • Nursing positions included staff nurse and assistant head nurse in pediatric inpatient settings. She has held nursing faculty positions at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Mount St. Joseph, OH, the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, MS, and the University of Missouri-Columbia, in Columbia, MO. Dr. Grigsby joined the faculty at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing in 1989.
  • Dr. Grigsby spends her spare time gardening, experimenting with new recipes, reading, and listening to music (especially jazz and piano). She enjoys traveling, camping, biking, walking, yoga, and playing with her cat (Kali) and dogs (Annie and Rosie).


  • Dr. Grigsby has held teaching positions in both graduate and undergraduate nursing programs. Since joining the UNMC College of Nursing she has been a member or chair of task forces and committees engaged in undergraduate and graduate curriculum review, revision, and course development.
  • Dr. Grigsby understands nursing science, health care environment, & issues faced by health care professionals/organizations. She is a leader in curriculum development and revision and identifies essential skills and curricular content needed by the professional nurse who works in management, administration, or executive leadership positions. Demonstration of this expertise includes:
    • shared leadership in revising the master’s level Nursing Administration program to prepare graduates for leadership in creating & maintaining health care delivery systems & infrastructures.
    • introduction of the discipline of dialogue, with Dr. Donna Westmoreland, in master’s level courses; its applicability in developing nursing science; and its usefulness to nursing administrators.
  • Dr. Grigsby makes classroom content and assignments relevant to students from a variety of disciplines. Her research focus, professional background, and areas of continuing education contribute to innovative classroom teaching strategies that promote intellectual and personal development of graduate/undergraduate students. Students evaluate her positively for creating an environment that facilitates discussion, respecting diverse opinions, and promoting independent thinking.
  • Dr. Grigsby teaches &/or co-teaches the following courses in the master’s  and DNP programs:
    • NRSG 656 - Developing Systems & Infrastructures in Health Care Organizations
    • NRSG 657 - Practicum in Managing & Evaluating Health Care Organizations
    • NRSG 703: Changing Complex Systems to Improve Health Care Delivery
  • Dr. Grigsby is a leader in the Health Systems Nurse Specialist master's specialty in the College of Nursing.  She participated in developing and implementing program grants for this specialty.  The program received 10 years of funding from DHHS.


  • Dr. Grigsby's research focus is the study of nursing and leadership (thinking skills, practice, and education) and work environments (health care delivery systems) that promote health and professional practice.

Dr. Grigsby has received funding for several projects, including:

  • A leader’s challenge: Integrating electronic learning into the classroom.
  • Increasing the leadership capacity for Nebraska Nurses
  • Coaching undergraduate students to academic success
  • Changes in nursing practice after implementation of an automated clinical documentation system.

Dr. Grigsby was co-investigator in a qualitative evaluation study for the North Central Project Ladder in Nursing Careers and Allied Health Occupation Coalition (LINC), under contract with the IA Hospital Education & Research Foundation, (1995-1997).

She initiated a broad program of research on "Nurses and Our Work" with Dr. Donna Westomoreland, in 1990. She has been primary investigator or co-investigator in:

  • "Nurses’ Ways of Knowing: A Preliminary Investigation of the Personal Knowledge of Hospital Staff Nurses." (Funded by UNMC seed grant).
  • "Patterns of Personal Knowledge of Hospital Staff Nurses." (Funded by the American Nurses’ Foundation).
  • "Changes in Nursing Practice After Implementation of an Automated Clinical Documentation System".  (Funded by Sigma Theta Tau). 
  • "Nurses’ Care Planning and Documentation Practices and the Development of Patient Complications: A Descriptive Study".  Dean’s Award Grant, UNMC CON

Consultations that Dr. Grigsby has provided include:

  • Consultation on developing a master’s program in nursing administration.
  • Data analysis for phenomenological study of nurses' working environments in pediatric intensive care;
  • Curriculum evaluation and curriculum revision in baccalaureate education;
  • Development of Health Systems Nurse Specialist curriculum: System supports, distance methodologies for integrated curriculum.
  • At the River: Making Bridges One Conversation at a Time: A Leadership Retreat

Professional Service/Recognition

 Honors and Awards

  • 2014 March of Dimes Nurse of the Year Award
  • 2012-2013 AACN Leadership for Academic Nursing Program
  • 2007 Distinguished Alumnae Award, College of Nursing, University of Cincinnati

Selected Professional Organizations and Activities

  • Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society for Nursing
    • STTI Building Corporation Board of Directors, 2013-2015
      • Secretary, 2014-2015
    • Director, STTI Board of Directors, 2005-2009
    • Elected STTI Region 3 Coordinator, 2001-2003
    • Elected STTI Region 2 Coordinator, 1999-2001
    • International Bylaws Committee, 1995-1999
    • Gamma Pi Chapter: President, 1997-1999; President-Elect 1996-97; Eligibility Committee,Chairperson 1995-96
  • Midwest Nursing Research Society
    • Qualitative Research Section, Chair, 1997-1998
      Co-chair, 1996-1997
  • National League for Nursing
    • Council for Society for Research in Nursing Education, Member, 1988-95
  • Council on Graduate Education for Administration in Nursing
    • By-laws Committee, 1997-2001
    • 2001 Conference Planning Committee, 1999-2001
  • Reviewer
    • UNMC e-Learning Grants
    • STTI Awards for Evidence Based Practice, Technology.
  • Chancellor's Commission for Gender Related Issues
    • Chair 1995 - 1997; Member 1992 - 2003