Karen Butler DNP, RN
Professor, Assistant Dean of Academic Operations

Dr. Karen M. Butler was awarded her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her Masters’ of Science in Nursing from the University of Kentucky, where she also received the Graduate Faculty Award for Academic Achievement. In May 2006, she earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, also from UK, and upon graduation received the inaugural Sebastian-Stanhope Award, now presented annually to an exemplary DNP student. Dr. Butler is a tenured Professor and Assistant Dean of Academic Operations in the UK College of Nursing, where she teaches in the DNP Program. She is also a Faculty Associate in the BREATHE (Bridging Research Efforts and Advocacy Toward Healthy Environments) and Tobacco Policy Research Programs in the College of Nursing, which consist of an interdisciplinary group of researchers focused on cancer control and prevention; she is currently the Co-Director of the Radon Policy Division of BREATHE. Dr. Butler is a nationally recognized expert in public policy development, and her work in tobacco-free workplace policy has resulted in a massive policy shift in Kentucky and beyond.  She has worked with community partners to reduce the health and economic burden of tobacco use in rural populations, specifically Appalachian Kentucky, using community engagement strategies to develop, deliver and evaluate evidence-based interventions to motivate smokers to consider quitting. Selected research includes an RO1 grant aimed at preventing lung cancer through use of a tailored intervention to reduce exposure to radon and secondhand smoke in the home; a community based participatory research project to develop, implement and evaluate a population-based intervention to examine fidelity, acceptability, practicality, effectiveness and reach of culturally-sensitive interventions to motivate rural smokers to seek tobacco dependence treatment; multiple projects aimed at college students related to reducing tobacco and alcohol use; and a CDC-funded grant though the Kentucky Department of Public Health to address tobacco prevention and cessation issues as well as reduction of radon exposure. Dr. Butler has won awards for her work in both scholarship and education, including the Louise Zegeer Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award and the UK College of Education's A Teacher Who Made a Difference. She received the UK College of Nursing Outstanding Alumni Award in 2015. She was chosen for participation in AACN's Leadership in Academic Nursing Program, as well as UK's Women in Executive Leadership Program. Her work has been peer-reviewed and presented in national and international venues, as well as published in many high impact professional journals and two award-winning textbooks. She is currently serving as an invited Co-Editor for a special edition of the Western Journal of Nursing Research focused on Tobacco and Social Justice. Dr. Butler is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society for Nursing. She actively contributes to the nursing profession through membership in five professional organizations, service as a reviewer for many professional journals, and leadership in national and international organizations, including service on the Board of Directors of the AARST Foundation. Prior to coming to the UK College of Nursing, Dr. Butler was a Clinical Nurse Specialist at the Markey Cancer Center, where she coordinated research protocols in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute.  She also served in several key leadership positions at UK HealthCare. She is highly regarded as an expert in evidence-based clinical nursing practice. The scope of her work is aimed at improving health outcomes for those living in Kentucky and beyond. As an aside, Dr. Butler is an accomplished pianist, and provides music for UK College of Nursing graduation ceremonies.

Contact Information

Phone: (859) 323-5684

Fax: (859) 323-1057




DNP, University of Kentucky, 2006
MSN, University of Kentucky, 1990
BSN, University of North Carolina, 1977


Adult health promotion, lung cancer prevention, nursing leadership, nursing education, evidence-based nursing practice, and program planning, implementation and evaluation.


Dr. Karen Butler's CV


Ickes, M. J. Butler, K. M. Rayens, M. K. Noland, M. Wiggins, A. Hahn, E. J. Tips from former smokers campus campaign: effects on college students. (2016), Health Education Research 47 (5), 324-331.

Noland, M. Ickes, M. J. Rayens, M. K. Butler, K. M. Social influences on use of cigarettes, e-cigarettes and hookah by college students. (2016), journal of American College Health 64 (4), 319-328.

Noland, M. Ickes, M. J. Rayens, M. K. Butler, K. M. Social Influences on Use of Cigarettes, E-Cigarettes and Hookah in College Students. (2016), Journal of American College Health, in progress 64 (4), 319-328.

Rayens, M. K. Butler, K. M. Wiggins, A. T. Kostygina, G. Langley, R. E. Hahn, E. J. (in press) Recall and effectiveness of messages promoting smoke-free policies in rural communities. (2016), Nicotine & Tobacco Research 18 (5), 1340-1347.

Okoli, C. T. Rayens, M. K. Wiggins, A. T. Ickes, M. J. Butler, K. M. Hahn, E. J. (in press) Secondhand tobacco smoke exposure and susceptibility to smoking, perceived addiction, and psychobehavioral symptoms among college students . (2016), Journal of American College Health 64 (2), 96-103.


Rayens, M. K., Ickes, M. J., Butler, K. M., Wiggins, A. T., Anderson, D. G., Hahn, E. J. 2016, November. University students perceived risk of and intention to use hookah and e-cigarettes. American Public Health Association Annual Meeting , Denver, CO United States.

Welsh, J., Grubbs, A., Walmsley, L. A., Butler, K. M., Burkhart, P. V. 2016, May. Design and outcome measurements for a MedVet to BSN educational option. . 12th Annual Nursing Faculty Development Workshop: Teaching to Transform for the New Reality of Nursing Practice, UK College of Nursing, .

Butler, K. M., Heath, J. E., Anderson, J., Barone, C., Andrews, J. 2016, March. Relationship of Pharmacotherapy Options and Standards of Nursing Practice. 2016 Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, Chicago, IL .

Hahn, E. J., Fallin, A., Ashford, K. B., Okoli, C. T., Butler, K. M., Heath, J. E. 2016, . Sampling, recruitment, and retention with "hard to reach" populations. Southern Nursing Research Society, Williamsburg, VA United States.

Ashford, K. B., Barnett, J., Wiggins, A. T., Gomez, M., Butler, K. M., Rayens, M. K., Hahn, E. J. 2016, . E-cigarette use among pregnant women and women of childbearing age. Southern Nursing Research Society, Williamsburg, VA United States.