Karen A. Grimley, PhD,RN, NEA-BC, FACHE

Distinguished Alumna


Karen Grimley is the Chief Nurse Executive for UCLA Health. She is a member of UCLA Health and School of Nursing senior leadership teams and is responsible for nursing practice and care delivery across UCLA Health’s four hospitals, and ambulatory care. With UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center, UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center and Orthopedic Hospital and Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital designated as Magnet® hospitals, she and her leadership team work to maintain the highest level of nursing excellence as a standard throughout UCLA Health. She has awesome responsibility for the overall delivery and management of nursing professional practice, education, professional development, research, administration and clinical services. She has staff accountability for enhancing a clinical practice environment that is patient-centered, with unsurpassed clinical quality and patient safety while also providing significant contributions to education and research. She also serves as assistant dean for the UCLA School of Nursing.

Prior to joining UCLA, Dr. Grimley served as chief nursing officer and volunteer assistant clinical professor at University of California-Irvine where her areas of responsibility encompassed all aspects of nursing practice, inpatient nursing operations, and programmatic oversight of the burn, trauma, stroke and transplant programs. As a champion of the patient experience at UC Irvine, Dr. Grimley organized and co-led the Patient Experience Coordinating Council to improve the patient experience by heightening organizational awareness. Her strategic direction for nursing was essential in revitalizing both the shared governance structure and the Relationship-Based Care model, and incorporating the use of clinical and operational metrics to show nurses how their practice and delivery of safe, high-quality care directly contributed to the operational success of the hospital.

Throughout her career, Dr. Grimley’s leadership and advocacy within the nursing profession has enhanced understanding of the major role that nurses play in the effective delivery of safe, high quality, patient and relationship-centered care. 

Dr. Grimley completed her PhD at Florida Atlantic University’s College of Nursing. She is a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives, a member of Sigma Theta Tau, International, the American Nurses Association, the California Association of Nurse Leaders, and the American Organization of Nurse Executives.