Riegel was part of the school’s first doctoral class, graduating in 1991. After earning the degree, she worked as a clinical researcher for Sharp HealthCare in San Diego, then as a member of the faculty at the School of Nursing at San Diego State University. In 2002 she joined the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, where she is currently a professor of nursing as well as an editor of the Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing. An active nurse scientist who studies adults with cardiovascular disease, Riegel focuses her research in the self-care of adults with heart failure. She has lectured around the world on the issues faced by these patients and has written more than 150 scholarly publications in peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary, and international journals. She is a fellow in the American Heart Association and American Academy of Nursing.