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Karen Gorton, PhD, MS, RN

Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Programs

Karen Gorton


Karen Gorton joined the University of Colorado College of Nursing in 2013 after having been at the University of Northern Colorado School of Nursing for five years. During her time there, she not only held the title of Assistant Professor, but also spent time as the Assistant Director for Undergraduate Programs. Prior to her work at the University of Northern Colorado, Gorton was at Carroll College (now Carroll University). There, she served for five years as an assistant professor, also taking on the positions of Interim Director of the Nursing Program and Director of the Nursing Program. Gorton earned her bachelor's degree in physical education from Wheaton College, her master's degree in athletic training from Indiana University, her bachelor's degree in nursing from Carroll College/Columbia College of Nursing, her master's degree in nursing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and finally, her PhD from the University of Northern Colorado. Gorton has clinical practice experience in emergency nursing at one of the busiest emergency departments in the state of Wisconsin. Prior to entering nursing, Gorton worked as a certified athletic trainer in a variety of settings.  

Gorton’s funded and non-funded studies have focused on the academic professional development of nursing students and nurses. In both clinical and classroom settings, Gorton’s undergraduate/ graduate-level teaching foci include acute care nursing, nursing informatics, nursing leadership, foundations of nursing, health assessment, medical/surgical nursing, pathophysiology, and community-health nursing.
Degree Awarding Institution Field of Study Graduation Date
PhD University of Northern Colorado
Greeley, CO
Nursing Education 2010
MSN University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Milwaukee, WI
Nursing - FNP 2003
BSN Caroll College/Columbia College of Nursing
Waukesha, WI
Nursing 1998
MS Indiana University
Bloomington, IN
Athletic Training 1988
BS Wheaton College
Wheaton, IL
Physical Education 1986
  1. ​Gorton, K.L., Hayes, J.S. Challenges of Assessing Critical Thinking and Clinical Judgment in Nurse Practitioner Students, Journal of Nursing Education. 2014 Mar; 53(3):S26-9.  doi: 10.3928/01484834-20140217-02. Epub 2014 Feb 1.

  2. Gorton, K. (2011). An investigation into the relationship between critical thinking skills and clinical judgment in the nurse practitioner students. Dissertation Publication, ProQuest.
Title Organization Year
NLN Ambassador National League for Nursing
FRB Award University of Northern Colorado 2010
Policy Fellow American Association of Colleges of Nursing, Washington, DC
Fellow Sigma Theta Tau International 2008
Fall. Nominee and Member Pi Lambda Theta 2007
Leadership in Academic Nursing Program (LANP) Fellow American Association of Colleges of Nursing 2006
President, founding member Tau Mu Chapter Sigma Theta Tau International 2006

Sigma Theta Tau International/Chamberlain College of Nursing Education Research Grants 
Karen L. Gorton, PhD (Alpha Kappa-at-Large, Eta Nu Chapters, USA) and her research team will receive a Sigma Theta Tau International/Chamberlain College of Nursing Education Research Grant for the study Accentuating the “I’s” and eliminating the “D’s”: Inducements and discouragements for students transitioning from Associate Degree to Baccalaureate Degree Nursing Programs - A national review.  The purpose of this study is to isolate and define the barriers and enhancements for students nationwide who are in academic transition from associate-degree to baccalaureate-degree status in nursing.  From:

2010 - 2011     Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration. Nurse Faculty Loan Program. $28,082. Designated as Internal Co-PI

2009 – 2010    Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Nurse Faculty Loan Program. $21,300. Designated as Internal Co-PI

2009 – 2010    Colorado Community College System.. Collaborative grant to facilitate, advise and plan for master’s degree education for CCCS nursing faculty. Co-PI. Funded $40,000

2008 - 2009     Colorado Department of Higher Education. Expansion of the number of Master’s level nurses”. Co-PI. Funded

2008 – 2009    Office of Extended Studies, University of Northern Colorado. Development grant to expand the number of master’s level nurses in the region. Co-PI. Funded $34,300

2007-2010       Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration. Carroll College Nursing Workforce Diversity Program Grant. Official role of PD began in January 2008. Took role of acting PD in September 2007. Funded $1,050,190.  Grant: 1-D19HP04154-01-01

2006-2007       Blue Cross Foundation: Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program – Planning Grant. Cognition and Outreach Service Delivery to Aging Seniors – Medical College of Wisconsin, Interfaith Caregiving Network, Inc. and Carroll College Nursing Program. Funded for a budget $49,000.

2004-2007       Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (Awarded September 2004). Carroll College Nursing Program Nursing Workforce Diversity Program Grant. Funded $559,450.  D19HP04154

​Karen Gorton's research areas/interests include critical thinking/clinical decision making, clinical judgment, simulation, collaborative community partnerships, student success, professional academic development and technology in nursing.