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Donna Fick

The age-friendly care movement is important to me as it embodies the essence of the care of older adults with a focus on mobility, mentation, avoiding inappropriate medications and being guided by what matters to the older adult themselves. This model helps simplify complex care and brings it to those who may not be trained in geriatrics or the care of older adults. As a researcher, aging woman, and a geriatric nurse, it is a dream come true to see a widespread initiative to improve the care of older adults at the point of care and across settings of care. I have been involved since the beginning as an advisor and faculty member for the national Age-Friendly Care movement through the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and John A. Hartford Foundation (since 2017) and continue as an advisor and expert for the national initiative that has already involved over 2000 health system facilities. I care deeply about the care of older adults and improving care through research and bedside implementation of care.

Donna Marie Fick, PhD, RN, GCNS-BC, FAAN is a Distinguished Professor in The Pennsylvania State University College of Nursing, the Elouise Ross Eberly Endowed Professor of Nursing, and Director of the Center for Geriatric Nursing Excellence. Her area of research has focused on two critical issues in the care of older adults, inappropriate medication use and delirium superimposed on dementia (DSD). She is a member of the interdisciplinary panel for the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) Beers Criteria for inappropriate medication use in older adults and serves on the AGS Board. Dr. Fick has co-chaired the Beers Criteria since 2001. These criteria, which specify drugs to avoid in older adults, are widely used to improve prescribing practices. The 2003 release, for which she was lead author, has been cited over 3000 times. The criteria are currently being updated for a 2022 release. Dr. Fick also serves as an expert faculty member and coach for the Creating an Age Friendly Health System Initiative funded by the John A. Hartford Foundation (JAH) and led by the Institute of Healthcare Improvement (IHI). She served on the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) Committee on the Public Health Dimensions of Cognitive Aging, and has served on the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Forum on Aging, Disability and Independence from 2017. In 2020, she was an invited author on the NAM Health Affairs paper, Actualizing Better Health and Health Care for Older Adults.

Dr. Fick is nationally and internationally recognized as a leading expert in geriatric care and research and is best known for her work on DSD and ultra-brief delirium detection at the bedside. Along with her team, she has transformed the way clinicians approach delirium and delirium in persons with dementia in the hospital setting. Their tools, the UB-2 and UB-CAM, are used in health systems across the world. Dr. Fick has completed three large R01 studies in delirium as PI or MPI, including two randomized intervention studies to decrease the duration and severity of DSD. Dr. Fick widely disseminates her work through over 150 publications, national media coverage, and national and international presentations. She is instrumental in advancing the health care policies of the JAH and IHI. Dr. Fick has been Editor of the Journal of Gerontological Nursing since 2011 and is board certified as a Gerontological Clinical Nurse Specialist through 2024.

Research Interests

  • Detection and management of delirium and delirium superimposed on dementia
  • Non-pharmacological approaches for persons with delirium and dementia
  • Inappropriate medication use and avoidance of unnecessary drugs
  • Healthy cognitive aging

PURE Profile

Orcid Profile


  • Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco
  • M.S.N., University of Cincinnati
  • B.S.N., Berea College

Selected Accomplishments, Contributions, Awards& Memberships

Dr. Fick is currently co-leading a Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP) project on Age-Friendly Care with Dr. Judy Hupcey focusing on the 4M’s of age-friendly care, medication, mentation, mobility and what matters to the older person. She is actively involved as a leader and an expert in age-friendly care and mentation and medication use on this project, lecturing both nationally and internationally on this topic. Delirium occurs in over a third of older adults with COVID-19. During the past year, she has done multiple invited lectures and training for staff caring for older adults with COVID-19 on best practices for delirium screening and management, including the rights of persons with disabilities during a pandemic.