A passion for critical care nursing underlies the distinguished career of Dorrie K. Fontaine, RN, PhD, FAAN, as a clinician, scholar, researcher, educator, and leader. 

Since her appointment as Sadie Heath Cabaniss Professor of Nursing and dean at UVA, Dr. Fontaine has implemented Appreciative Inquiry methodology as the basis for the School’s strategic planning and launched an interdisciplinary process to create a transformational model to provide compassionate end-of-life care across the health care spectrum. In addition, she has been a strong advocate for interprofessional education, engaging both medical and nursing students in collaboration with the School of Medicine, and a champion of developing the School's continuing education programs for working nurses.

Dr. Fontaine’s teaching has centered on issues related to critical care, including sleep promotion, pain relief, and family presence at the end of life. Most recently, she has investigated strategies to promote nursing education partnerships, diversity, and interprofessional education in university settings. Her priorities as dean include continued work in promoting healthy workplace environments, building more interprofessional collaborations, and increasing diversity in both the faculty and student populations. 

Between 2003 and 2004, she served as president of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN), the largest specialty nursing organization in the world. That association recognized her contributions with its Lifetime Member Award.

Fontaine was inducted into the American Academy of Nursing in 1995, has received the Presidential Citation from the Society of Critical Care Medicine, and is a member of the Sigma Theta Tau International nursing honor society. Her alma mater, Villanova, honored her with a Medallion for Contributions to the Profession in 1999 and the University of Maryland named her a Distinguished Alumna in 2012. 

The following year, Fontaine received the Distinguished Lectureship Award from the Society of Trauma Nurses, the same year that the Blue Ridge chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society feted her with their Silver Hope Award, the society's highest honor. Later in 2013, UVa's Seven Society recognized her "exemplary leadership" and that fall, Fontaine was the invited Convocation keynote speaker at JPJ arena before an audience of thousands.

In 2015, she received the Martin Luther King Jr. Award from UVA Health System as well as the University of Maryland's Visionary Pioneer Award. In 2014, Dr. Fontaine received recognition from UVA's Sons and Daughters of Liberty for her leadership along with UVA's Lifetime Learning Outstanding Faculty Speaker recognition award.

Prior to her 2008 appointment at UVA, Dr. Fontaine was associate dean for academic programs and clinical professor at the University of California San Francisco. Before coming to UCSF, Dr. Fontaine held associate dean positions and taught at Georgetown University School of Nursing.

Dr. Fontaine received her bachelor of science degree in nursing from Villanova University, a master’s degree from the University of Maryland, and her PhD from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. In 2006, she completed a Management and Leadership in Education Program at the Harvard Graduate Institute of Higher Education. She's lived with her family in Pavilion IX since 2010 on the west side of UVA's historic Lawn.

Research Focus

Nursing leadership; Healthy work environments; Critical care nursing; Interprofessional education; Resilience; Nurse burnout: Nursing faculty shortage; Nurse retention; Teaching compassion.


Journal Articles

Harmon, R. B., DeGennaro, R., Norling, M., Kennedy, C., & Fontaine, D. K. (2018). Implementing healthy work environment standards in an academic workplace: An update. Journal of Professional Nursing, 34(1), 20-24. doi:10.1016/j.profnurs.2017.06.001

Fontaine, D.K., Haizlip, J., & Lavandero, R. (2018). No time to be nice in the Intensive Care Unit. American Journal of Critical Care, 27(2), 153-156. doi:10.4037/ajcc2018401

Fontaine, D., & Keeling, A. (2017). Compassionate care through the centuries. Nursing History Review, 25(1), 13-25. doi:10.1891/1062-8061.25.13

Fontaine, D.K., & Haizlip, J. (2017). With Legos and purposeful errors, UVA drives interprofessional collaboration. Voice of Nursing Leadership, 15(6), 4-6.

Bauer-Wu, S., & Fontaine, D. (2015). Prioritizing clinician wellbeing: The University of Virginia's Compassionate Care Initiative. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 4(5), 16-22. doi:10.7453/gahmj.2015.042

Laughon, K., Fontaine, D., Bullock, L. (2015). Violence on campus: We all have a role to play [Editorial]. Journal of Nursing Education, 54(5), 239-240. doi:10.3928/01484834-20150417-10

Barr, J., Fraser, G.L., Puntillo, K., Ely, E.W., Gélinas, C., Dasta, J.F., Davidson, J.E., Devlin, J.W., Kress, J.P., Joffe, A.M., Coursin, D.B., Herr, D.L., Tung, A., Robinson, B.R, Fontaine, D.K., Ramsay, M.A., Riker, R.R., Sessler, C.N., Pun, B., Skrobik, Y., & Jaeschke, R. (2013). Clinical practice guidelines for the management of pain, agitation, and delirium in adult patients in the intensive care unit. Critical Care Medicine, 41(1), 263-306.

Fontaine, D. (2012). Eighteen days of hurt and moving forward. Virginia Policy Review, 11(Special Issue), 12-14.

Fontaine, D., (2012). Standing in my power: Becoming a fearless dean. Kosmos Journal, fall/winter, 2012, 39-42.

McAdam, J.L., Fontaine, D.K., White, D.B., Dracup, K.A., & Puntillo, K.A. (2012). Psychological symptoms of family members of high-risk intensive care unit patients. American Journal of Critical Care, 21(6), 386-393.

Fontaine, D., Koh, E., & Carroll, T. (2012). Promoting a healthy workplace for nursing faculty and staff. Nursing Clinics of North America, 47(4), 557-566.

Harmon, R.B., Fontaine, D., Plews-Ogan, M., & Williams, A. (2012). Achieving transformational change: Using appreciative inquiry for strategic planning at a school of nursing. Journal of Professional Nursing, 28(2), 119-124.

Ziehm, S.R., Uibel, I.C., Fontaine, D.K., & Scherzer, T. (2011). Success indicators for an accelerated masters entry nursing program: Staff RN performance. Journal of Nursing Education, 50(7), 395-403.

Fontaine, D.K., & Langston, N.F. (2011). The master's is not broken: Commentary on the doctor of nursing practice: A national workforce perspective. Nursing Outlook, 59(3), 121-122.

Scherzer, T., Stotts, N., & Fontaine, D.K. (2010). Meeting the nursing faculty shortage challenge: An accelerated doctoral program in nursing. Journal of Professional Nursing, 26(6), 366-370.

McAdam, J.M, Dracup, K.A., White, D.B., Fontaine, D.K., & Puntillo, K.A. (2010). Symptom experiences of family members of intensive care unit patients at high risk of dying. Critical Care Medicine, 38(4), 1078-1085.

Ziehm,S., Fontaine, D. K. (2009). Clinical faculty: tips for joining the ranks. AACN Advanced Critical Care, 20(1), 71-81.

Powell Kennedy,H.,Fisher,L.,Fontaine,D.,Martin-Holland,J. (2008). Evaluating diversity in nursing education: a mixed method study.. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 19(4), 363-370.

Fontaine, D. K., Stotts, N. A., Saxe, J., & Scott, M. (2008). Shared faculty governance: A decision-making framework for evaluating the DNP. Nursing Outlook, 56(4), 167-173.

Gerardi,D.,Fontaine,D. K. (2007). True Collaboration: Envisioning New Ways of Working Together.. AACN Advanced Critical Care, 18(1), 10-14.

Fontaine,D. K.,Dracup,K. (2007). The accelerated doctoral program in nursing: a university-foundation partnership. Journal of Nursing Education, 46(4), 159-164.

Barnato,A. E.,Kahn,J. M.,Rubenfeld,G. D.,McCauley,K.,Fontaine,D.,Frassica,J. J.,Hubmayr,R.,Jacobi,J.,Brower,R. G.,Chalfin,D.,Sibbald,W.,Asch,D. A.,Kelley,M.,Angus,D. C. (2007). Prioritizing the organization and management of intensive care services in the United States: The PrOMIS Conference.. Critical care medicine, 35(4), 1003-1011.

Howie-Esquivel, J., & Fontaine, D. K. (2006). The evolving role of the acute care nurse practitioner in critical care. Current Opinion in Critical Care, 12(6), 609-613. doi:10.1097/MCC.0b013e32800ff256

Fontaine,D. K.,Gerardi,D. (2005). Healthier hospitals? Nursing Management, 36(10), 34-44.

Maclean,S. L.,Guzzetta,C. E.,White,C.,Fontaine,D.,Eichhorn,D. J.,Meyers,T. A.,Desy,P. (2003). Family presence during cardiopulmonary resuscitation and invasive procedures: practices of critical care and emergency nurses.. Journal of Emergency Nursing, 29(3), 208-221.

Jacobi,J.,Fraser,G. L.,Coursin,D. B.,Riker,R. R.,Fontaine,D.,Wittbrodt,E. T. (2002). Clinical practice guidelines for the sustained use of sedatives and analgesics in the critically ill adult. Critical care medicine, 30(1), 119-141.

Stanik-Hutt,J. A.,Soeken,K. L.,Belcher,A. E.,Fontaine,D. K.,Gift,A. G. (2001). Pain experiences of traumatically injured patients in a critical care setting.. American Journal of Critical Care, 10(4), 252-259.

Fontaine,D. K. (1989). Measurement of nocturnal sleep patterns in trauma patients.. Heart & Lung, 18(4), 402-410.


Fontaine, D., Cunningham, C., & May, N. (2021). Self-Care for New and Student Nurses. Indianapolis: Sigma Nursing.

Morton, P. G., & Fontaine, D. K. (2018). Critical care nursing: A holistic approach. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health.

White, K.R., & Fontaine, D. (2017). Boost your nursing leadership career: 50 lessons that drive success. Chicago: Health Administration Press.

Morton, P. G., & Fontaine, D. K. (2013). Essentials of critical care nursing: A holistic approach, 10th edition. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Morton, P.G. & Fontaine, D.K. (2009). Critical Care Nursing: A Holistic Approach (9th edition). Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Book Sections

Fontaine, D. K., Rushton, C.H., & Sharma, M. (2014). Cultivating compassion and empathy. In M. Plews-Ogan & E. Beyt (Eds.), Wisdom leadership in academic health science centers: Leading positive change (pp. 92-110). London: Radcliffe Publishing.

Bizek, K.S. & Fontaine, D.K. (2013). The patient's experience with critical illness. In P.G. Morton & D.K. Fontaine (Eds.), Critical Care Nursing: A Holistic Approach, 10th Edition (pp. 15-28). Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

Gerardi, D., & Fontaine, D. (2012). Interprofessional collaboration among critical care team members. In R. Irwin & J. Rippe (Eds.), Intensive Care Medicine (pp. 2123-2131). Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins.

Bizek, K. S. & Fontaine, D. K. (2009). The patient's experience with critical illness. In P.G. Morton & D.K. Fontaine (Eds.), Critical Care Nursing: A Holistic Approach, 9th Edition (pp. 18-32). Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

Columns, Editorials and Op-Eds

Fontaine, D.K. (2019, June 23). A healing mantra for us all: Be kind [Column]. The Daily Progress. Retrieved from

Fontaine, D.K., & Harmon, R. (2017, May 21). Take care, graduates [Column]. The Richmond Times Dispatch. Retrieved from

Wiencek, C., & Fontaine, D. (2016, May 2). Defying a death-defying culture [Column]. Huffington Post. Retrieved from

Kools, S., & Fontaine, D. (2015, December 29). Nursing diversity: Why backstories matter [Editorial]. Huffington Post. Retrieved from

Fontaine, D., & Bauer-Wu, S. (2014, May 11). Conversations about a good death. Richmond Times Dispatch. Retrieved from

Fontaine, D., Bauer-Wu, S., & Germano, D. (2014, January 23). The architecture of resilience [Column]. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from

Fontaine, D.K., White, K.R. (2014, Sept. 6). Better care: We all have an interest in empowered nurses [Column]. The Richmond Times Dispatch. Retrieved from

Fontaine, D. (2013, January 6). Can compassion and empathy be learned? [Editorial]. The Daily Progress, p. B1.

Fontaine, D. K. (2012, July 5). Nurse practitioners: They'll save your life. .. and money [Editorial]. The Hook, p. 39.