Bridgette M. (Brawner) Rice, PhD, MDiv

The Richard and Marianne Kreider Endowed Professor in Nursing for Vulnerable Populations

Bridgette M. (Brawner) Rice, PhD, MDiv

A lauded expert in behavioral health and intervention development, Bridgette M. (Brawner) Rice ’03, PhD, MDiv, APRN, FAAN, is a nurse scientist advancing the way research is conducted in community health.

This year, Dr. Rice was selected as one of just 250 nurses in the world to be inducted as a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, a society that recognizes nursing’s most accomplished leaders in policy, research, practice, administration and academia. Among her many honors, she recently received the Diversity and Equity Award from the International Society of Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurses for outstanding leadership in driving the development of culturally sensitive mental health services for diverse individuals, families and groups.

Dr. Rice’s novel approach integrates innovative methodologies such as geographic information systems mapping and mixed methods research design—a combination of qualitative and quantitative studies. Shedding light on the role of geography in health, her work aims to promote health equity and break down the individual, social and structural drivers of health disparities.

“Because these inequities are avoidable, I use research as an advocacy tool to inform interventions as well as policies that can help improve health and reduce risk,” explains Dr. Rice, who is the Richard and Marianne Kreider Endowed Professor in Nursing for Vulnerable Populations.

Using these innovative methods, Dr. Rice’s work addresses multiple issues, including youth mental health service access and use, gun violence, cardiovascular disease risk among young Black men, and HIV/STI risk in youth with mental illnesses and difficulties with emotional regulation. As a community-engaged researcher, she collaborates closely with youth, faith-based institutions and policymakers.

“I am a doer and an interventionist by nature. When I see something disturbing, I want to be in a position where I can do something now to make it better,” says Dr. Rice.


Putting Communities First

In 2021, Dr. Rice received a City of Philadelphia Community Expansion Grant to help address the local gun violence crisis through an innovative youth boxing program in North Philadelphia.

Created in partnership with Epiphany Fellowship Church, the 22nd Police District, Community Behavioral Health and Penn Nursing, the “Guns Down, Gloves Up” program invited 12- to 24-year-olds from one North Philadelphia neighborhood to meet twice a week for comprehensive sessions that included workouts, formal boxing instruction, life-skills training, tools for regulating anger and sadness, conflict resolution and more.

Bringing her unique expertise as a psychiatric-mental health advanced practice nurse and researcher, Dr. Rice focused on ensuring that the boxing coaches were equipped to handle the complex challenges Philadelphia’s youth face. Data were collected to determine the program's impact, and analyses are underway.

“With this being a community-led initiative, we are able to meet youth where they are, train boxing coaches to screen for behavioral health concerns, link youth to care and help to break the cycle by tackling the drivers of gun violence from multiple angles,” Dr. Rice says.