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Karla M. Abela


Assistant Professor

Department of Graduate Studies

Karla M. Abela, Ph.D., RN, CCRN-K, CPN is an Assistant Professor and Post-Doctoral Student at Cizik School of Nursing at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth Houston) in the Department of Research. Her clinical experience as a pediatric nurse working with acutely and critically ill children and their families led to her interest in examining factors that impact physical, social, psychological, and emotional recovery after hospitalization in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). Dr. Abela's research interests include exploring the experiences of families of critically ill children. She is particularly interested in the health outcomes of family members of children admitted to the PICU and examining the factors that may contribute to these outcomes. In addition, she is interested in finding innovative ways to recruit and engage children experiencing critical illness in research, across the range of developmental stages.

Dr. Abela has presented her research at local, regional, national, and international forums and published her research in nursing and multidisciplinary peer-reviewed journals. She was awarded a very competitive grant from the American Nurses Foundation for her dissertation research and was awarded the Doctoral Student Writing Award and Community and Health Services Award at Cizik School of Nursing. She has served as a nurse educator, nurse manager, clinical specialist, and assistant director in the hospital setting. She has been recognized by the Houston Chronicle as a Top 15 Nurse, was awarded a Bronze Good Samaritan Award, and received the Texas Children's Hospital Nursing Excellence Award for Nurse with an Advanced Degree.


Cizik School of Nursing at the University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston Texas
PhD in Nursing
May 2020

Cizik School of Nursing at the University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston, Texas
Post Master’s Certificate- Nurse Education
December 2019

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Master of Science in Nursing
May 2014

Humber College of Applied Arts and Technology, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Diploma in Nursing
December 2003

Clinical/Research Focus

Pediatrics, Pediatric Critical Care, Families, Family-Centered Care, Quality Improvement, Patient Safety.