Speaker Bios - Annual Nursing Science & Innovation Conference


Maria ORourke

Dr. Maria W. O’Rourke, RN, PhD, FAAN
Chief Executive Officer, President, Maria W. O’Rourke & Associates, LLC

Dr O’Rourke is CEO/ President of Maria W. O’Rourke & Associates, LLC, a consultancy focused on professional role clarity and its impact on practice excellence, professional practice model development using her Professional Role Driven Practice Model™ and advocating for professional nursing as a vital to quality health care. She is cofounder of the O’Rourke Institute for Advancing Professional Practice.

Dr O’Rourke is renowned for her pioneering, seminal work on professional role clarity. This effort began in the mid 1960’s when defining the work of nursing as a professional practice discipline and clarifying the role of the RN as a key decision maker on the interdisciplinary team were critical to advancing nursing as a profession. She carried this effort into the legislative arena where she was instrumental in rewriting the California Nursing Practice Act in 1974. Dr. O’Rourke then published the first paper on its implementation which served to guide the profession, regionally and nationally, in the appropriate use of the RN as a professional.

Over the past four decades, her body of work in the field on professional role identity formation theory has culminated in a theoretically grounded practice model called Role Driven Practice™ that serves as a foundation for professional role clarity and role competence, aligning appropriate role relationships among professional, technical, and assistive roles and improving performance and practice outcomes.

Dr. O’Rourke has held many key leadership positions including Nurse Theorist and Nurse Scientist for Professional Research Practice in the Office of Research and Patient Care Services at Stanford Healthcare, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Staff Development Educator, Faculty, Director of Staff Development and Research, Chief Nurse Executive, CEO, Chief Strategy Officer, and Healthcare Consultant. She has led numerous patient safety and quality care initiatives, helping organizations connect professional role clarity and competence to error/risk reduction, patient safety, and improved outcomes all within a Professional Practice Model.

Although her roots are in nursing, her work transcends the discipline and serves as a foundation for inter-professional leadership. She continues to be committed to helping members of the interdisciplinary and inter-professional team better understand professional practice and the pivotal decision-making role professionals play on the team, with expertise on the role of the professional RN. 

In addition, she is a Professor of Nursing Clinical Series at UCSF, Department of Community Health Systems, member of the Inaugural Advisory Council for the Healthcare Administration, and Inter-professional Leadership Program (HAIL) and faculty in the UCSF Leadership Institute. In 2015, she was the Inaugural Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Honor Health in Scottsdale leading the designing of the Professional Practice Model, working with governance councils to support, promote and integrate professional practice. 

Her extensive work in this field, she has garnered several honors and awards, including the Boston University School of Nursing Distinguished Alumni Award in 1984, UCSF School of Nursing Distinguished Alumni Award in 2010, the Sigma Theta Tau - UCSF Alpha Eta Inaugural Leadership Hall of Fame in 2014, STTI Alpha Eta Chapter's Margretta Madden Styles Award for her leadership, vision and advancement of nursing in 2015, and most recently in 2018 was awarded the Ray Cox Award by ANA-C for advancement of the nursing profession.


Kristin Choi

Kristen Choi, PhD, PMHNP-BC, FAAN
Assistant Professor, UCLA School of Nursing and UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Department of Health Policy and Management 
Associate Program Director, UCLA National Clinician Scholars Program

Dr. Kristen Choi is an Assistant Professor of Nursing and Public Health at UCLA. Her research aims to improve access to and delivery of mental health care for children, adolescents, and other underserved populations. As a health services researcher, Dr. Choi studies healthcare systems, health policy, and healthcare delivery mechanisms that could be modified to improve population mental well-being. Her work also includes a substantial focus on equity in mental health care and how mental health disparities can be eliminated.

Dr. Choi is currently researching adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), trauma-informed care, access to mental healthcare among LGBTQ youth, and interventions to address social determinants of health.  She practices as a psychiatric nurse practitioner at a safety net hospital in Los Angeles and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. She is also an Associate Program Director for the UCLA National Clinician Scholars Program.