Phone: 800.292.1903

Department Hours: M-F: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. CST

Waldorf University’s RN to BSN program mission is to foster a supportive learning environment that prepares culturally competent nurses to lead and educate in a diverse and complex world.

Program Director

Tara Nichols, D.N.P.

Nursing | Program Director RN-BSN Program, Faculty

  • D.N.P. Health Innovation and Leadership, Concentration: Healthcare Design certificate (2020); Magna cum laude – University of Minnesota
  • M.S. Adult-Gerontology (Acute & Critical Care), Concentration: Education-Teaching certification (2010); Cum Laude and B.S.N. (1994); Cum Laude – University of Michigan
  • A.D.N. (1990) – Highland Park Community College
  • B.A. in Psychology (1987) – Oakland University

Dr. Nichols is an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner, practicing as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Pain Management. She started her nursing career as an RN and returned to school one year later to complete an RN-BSN program. During the completion of the RN-BSN program she was a single-parent and is now a grandmother, recently completing her Doctor of Nursing Practice. Dr. Nichols is triple certified in Critical Care, Adult-Gerontology and Pain Management and she is a Relationship Based Care-Caring Science expert.

She was the Principal Investigator on a Caring Science Study: Implementing the Relationship Based Care Model and Creating a Flexible and Efficient Workforce. She is a national and international speaker and always begins her presentations with the question: what do you believe? She endeavors to challenge healthcare professionals to examine their beliefs and change their behavior about the importance of caring, being empathetic, and developing compassionate relationships with  self,  with colleagues, and with those they care for.

Dr. Nichols believes the embodiment of these attributes are necessary for comfort and healing to occur, and she has applied these beliefs as well as over 20 years of patient stories to explain the physiology of comfort, developing and publishing the Nichols-Nelson Theoretical Model of Comfort.

As the Program Director of the RN-BSN program, Dr. Nichols brings over 30 years of expertise, education, and clinical practice to Waldorf University. Dr. Nichols understands the diversity of needs and strengths RN-BSN students have, and  the passion  students need to successfully complete their baccalaureate degree. Dr. Nichols is as compassionate of an instructor as she is a healthcare provider, and leads the RN-BSN program at Waldorf University with a devotion to her students and the expertise to educate a new wave of BSNs.

Research Focus/Clinical Interests

  • Comfort (for life) & the Physiology of Comfort
  • Chronic Pain and Opioid Use Disorder
  • Application of Caring Science on outcomes
  • Self-care and Self-management
  • The therapeutic-use of self as an intervention


  • Nichols, T. (2019). The role of the Doctor of Nursing practice in promoting nonpharmacologic pain and comfort management. Creative nursing, 25(04), publication approved.
  • Nichols, T. M. (2019). 1D Practice Stories Inspired a Multidimensional Comfort Model for Pain Management, Clinical Practice, and Research. Pain Management Nursing, 20(2), 94.
  • Nichols, T. (2018). Comfort as a Multidimensional Construct for Pain Management. Creative nursing, 24(2), 88-98.
  • Lombard, K., Wright, D. & Nichols, T, (2017). Chapter 7: Embedding Relational Competence Advancing Relationship-Based Cultures, (Ed) Mary Koloroutis, RN; David Abelson, MD, 2017
  • Nelson, J., Nichols, T. and Wahl, J. (2017). The cascading effect of civility on outcomes of clarity, job satisfaction, and caring for patients. Interdisciplinary Journal of Partnership Studies
  • Nichols, T. (2017). See me as a Person Therapeutic Practices: Core Competencies applied to pain and comfort. Koloroutis, M. & Abelson, D. Eds. Advancing Relationship-Based Cultures. Creative Health Care Management.