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William F. Connell School of Nursing

Danny G. Willis, DNS, RN, FAAN

department chair and associate professor

Danny G. Willis, D.N.S., PMHCNS-BC

Contact Information
Maloney Hall 240


  • D.N.S. Louisiana State University
  • M.S.N. Louisiana State University
  • B.S.N. University of Mississippi


Healing as a central focus of the discipline of nursing; humanization and dignity as processes promoting health with vulnerable populations; integrative health modalities; spiritual aspects of healing; men's health and self-care processes; qualitative research; theoretical translation and development of the discipline


Dr. Danny G. Willis, D.N.S., RN, PMHCNS-BC is an associate professor, department chair, and the former chair of the Diversity Advisory Board at the William F. Connell School of Nursing at Boston College. He is ANCC board certified as a clinical specialist in adult psychiatric mental health. His scholarly expertise is in qualitative research, philosophy of science, and theory development. Dr. Willis’ program of research incorporates the philosophical foundations of nursing science and synthesized knowledge from other disciplines to explicate boys’ and men’s health and well-being in the aftermath of traumatic and marginalizing experiences, with a focus on a central construct of the discipline of nursing -- healing. His research has been internally and externally funded, including a series of studies focused on adult hate crimes, boys' lived experiences of being bullied, child witness to violence, and adult survivors’ of child maltreatment perceptions and experiences of health promotion within the context of child maltreatment survivorship. Building on the previous research, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded his most recent research (2010-2013) focused on describing, interpreting, and theorizing adult male survivors’ experiences of healing from all forms of child maltreatment. Dr. Willis is a regional, national, and international leader in men’s mental health, nursing philosophy, and qualitative research. He holds a faculty nurse scientist appointment in the Yvonne L. Munn Center for Nursing Research at the Massachusetts General Hospital and has co-chaired the Theory Development group for the Eastern Nursing Research Society for several years. He has served as a past secretary of the American Assembly for Men in Nursing and currently co-chairs the Research Council of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association. He is on the editorial review panel of Advances in Nursing Science, American Journal of Men’s Health, Issues in Mental Health Nursing, Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, Journal of Holistic Nursing, and Nursing Philosophy. Dr. Willis’ international nursing leadership involves co-chairing the 12th International Philosophy of Nursing Conference, serving as special guest editor of the interdisciplinary journal Nursing Philosophy, and international speaking engagements on the topics of men’s health in the aftermath of violence, nursing’s unifying focus of “facilitating humanization, meaning, choice, quality of life, and healing in living and dying”, qualitative research perspectives, and processes for ensuring the humanization of healthcare. He serves as a reviewer for the Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences and is the 2014 guest editor of a special edition of Issues in Mental Health Nursing focused on research and theory development relevant to men’s mental health and well-being around the globe.


  • 2015: Appointed to Editorial Board: Research and Theory for Nursing Practice: An International Journal
  • 2014: Editor, Issues in Mental Health Nursing
  • 2014: Nancy M. Valentine Excellence in Leadership Award, New England Chapter of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association (APNA)
  • 2011: Rising Star Award: Eastern Nursing Research Society
  • 2010: Research Poster Award, American Psychiatric Nurses Association

additional appointments & awards »


  • Grace, P. J., Willis, D. G., Roy, S. C., & Jones, D. A. (2016). Profession at the Crossroads: A Dialog Concerning the Preparation of Nursing Scholars and Leaders. Nursing Outlook, 64(1), 61–70.
  • Dionne-Odum, J. (Nick), Willis, D. G., Bakitas, M., Crandal, B., & Grace, P. J. (2015). Conceptualizing Surrogate Decision-Making at End of Life in the Intensive Care Unit using Cognitive Task Analysis. Nursing Outlook, 63(3), 331-340. doi: 10.1016/j.outlook.2014.10.004
  • Willis, D. G., DeSanto-Madeya, S. A., Ross, R. E., Leone-Sheehan, D., & Fawcett, J. (2015). Spiritual Healing in the Aftermath of Childhood Maltreatment: Translating Men's Lived Experiences Utilizing Nursing Conceptual Models and Theory. Advances in Nursing Science, 38(3), 162–174.
  • Grace, P. J., Willis, D. G., Roy, C., & Jones, D. (in press). Profession at the crossroads: A dialog concerning the preparation of nursing scholars and leaders. To appear in Nursing Outlook.
  • Dionne-Odom, J. Willis, D. G., Bakitas, M., Crandal, B., & Grace, P. J. (2015). Conceptualizing surrogate decision making at end of life in the intensive care unit using cognitive task analysis. Nursing Outlook, 63(3), 331-30. doi: 10.1016/j.outlook.2014.10.004
  • Easton, S.D., Leone-Sheehan, D. M., Sophis, E. J., & Willis, D. G. (2015). From that moment on my life changed: Turning points in the healing process for men recovering from childhood sexual abuse. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 24(2), 152-173. doi:10.1080/10538712.2015.997413
  • Dionne-Odom, J. N., Willis, D. G., Bakitas, M., Crandall, B., & Grace, P. J. (2014). Conceptualizing surrogate decision-making at end of life in the intensive care unit using cognitive task analysis. Nursing Outlook. Advance online publication. doi:10.1016/j.outlook.2014.10.004
  • Willis, D. G., DeSant-Madeya, S. A., & Fawcett, J. (2015). Moving beyond dwelling in suffering: A situation-specific theory of men’s healing from childhood maltreatment. Nursing Science Quarterly, 28(1), 57-63. doi:10.1177/0894318414558606

additional publications »