Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP)

Specialty Director

Karen D'Apolito

Karen D’Apolito, PhD, NNP-BC, FAAN
Professor of Nursing

Dr. Karen D’Apolito has been involved in neonatal nursing for more than 40 years. She joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1998 and has received faculty awards for her innovative teaching.  She has served on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Neonatal Nurses (NANN) and was instrumental in the development of neonatal nursing practice guidelines as Chairperson of the NANN Practice Committee. She is on the board of the National Perinatal Association and functions as the Vice President for programs. In 2008, Dr. D’Apolito received the Individual Contribution to Maternal and Child Health Award from the National Perinatal Association for her work with drug-exposed infants. She has also developed an inter-observer reliability program for the Neonatal Abstinence Scoring Tool. She served as co-investigator on a multi-site NIH Grant designed to assess the severity of withdrawal in neonates born to women who were randomly treated during pregnancy with either methadone or buprenorphine. Her research interests are in the area of infant adaptation and chemical dependency. She has had many publications in these areas and has published on the topic of neonatal pain.

Dr. D’Apolito has earned the following degrees:

  • PhD, University of Washington
  • Post-Master’s Certificate, University of Tennessee Health Science Center
  • MSN, Case Western Reserve University
  • BSN, Trenton State College


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