Valerie Swigart

Health Promotion & Development
School of Nursing
440 Victoria Building
3500 Victoria Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15261

F: 412-624-8521


My research focuses on the interface of technology, health care and human behavior. This work has included being the principal investigator and co-investigator for numerous NIH-sponsored studies. My expertise in qualitative research methods has supported better understanding of the processes of surrogate decision making regarding life-sustaining technology, the impact of long term mechanical ventilation, homeless persons’ health care seeking behaviors, and Middle Eastern women’s experience of sexual harassment and domestic abuse.

My current research interests include international collaborations to (1) evaluate the development of student nurses’ cross-culture communications skills using online dialogue, and (2) evaluation of a large-scale online clinician education course.


My teaching activities focus on professional, interpersonal, and international/global aspects of health care ethics. This work includes design and implementation of an online Clinical Ethics Teaching Module and a Clinical Ethics Course for continuing education of practitioners in the community. In 2006, both the Nursing Excellence in Teaching with Technology Award (from the School of Nursing) and an Innovation in Education Award from the Provost’s Advisory Council on Instructional Excellence were awarded to me. My ACIE project, "Teaching Ethics in the Era of Globalization," produced an online Global Health Ethics Unit and established an ongoing International Dialogue between University of Pittsburgh nursing students and nursing students in China, Greece, Turkey, Jordan, and South Africa. In 2008, I was awarded the Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award. Other teaching activities include frequent lectures on ethics and co-instructor for the Global Health Care and the Qualitative Research Methods courses. I am the primary teacher for a new massive open online course (MOOC) titled, Clinical Terminology for International and U.S. Students offered at and a collaborator on the Clinical Terminology Dictionary for Beginning International and U.S. Healthcare Providers at .


As a member of the Center for Bioethics and Health Law, I teach Ethics in Palliative and Hospice Care for the Consortium Ethics Program and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. I am a member of the dean’s task force for implementation of the University’s “International Plan Framework,” assisting with efforts to build international partnerships, and develop SON curricula and learning experiences to enhance students’ global competence.