Maria W. O’Rourke, RN, PhD, FAAN, FAAHC

Dr. O’Rourke is renowned for her pioneering, seminal work on role clarity. Her work defining nursing as a professional practice discipline impacted the legislative arena where she was instrumental in rewriting the California Nursing Practice Act in 1974. Dr. O’Rourke has published and presented extensively at regional and national venues.

Over the past four decades, her body of work in the field has culminated in the creation of Role-Based Practice™ (RBP), a theoretically grounded practice model. Tools developed for this model include a professional role competency assessment that helps achieve professional role clarity. Implemented in hospitals nationwide, Role-Based Practice™ acts as a foundation for improving performance and practice outcomes, accelerating the development of professional role competence and accountability, ensuring interprofessional leadership, establishing role based therapeutic and collegial communication patterns within the interdisciplinary healthcare team, and for ensuring appropriate role relationships among professional, technical and assistive roles.

Dr. O’Rourke has held many key leadership positions including Clinical Nurse Specialist, Director of Staff Development and Research, Chief Nurse Executive, CEO, Healthcare Consultant and Chief Strategy Officer. Throughout her career she has led numerous patient safety and quality care initiatives helping organizations connect professional role competence to error/risk reduction, patient safety, and improved outcomes. With roots are in nursing, her work transcends the discipline and serves as a foundation for interprofessional leadership. Based on her commitment to role based professional practice and her extensive work in this field, she has garnered several honors and awards, including the most recent one in 2010, the Jane Norbeck Distinguished Alumni Award from the UCSF School of Nursing.

As an Assistant Clinical Professor of Nursing for UCLA and an Associate Clinical Professor of Nursing for UCSF she continues to educate members of the interdisciplinary team on role-based accountability and the pivotal decision making role the professional plays on the interdisciplinary team with special expertise in the role of Nursing.