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UW Nursing’s Bekemeier Named a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ‘Nurse Faculty Scholar’

 

For immediate release
Date:    August 31, 2010
Contact:   nscomm@uw.edu

Public Health Systems Researcher is Selected for Prestigious Program to Advance Careers of Nation’s Most Promising Junior Nurse Faculty


SEATTLE – Betty Bekemeier, Ph.D., M.P.H. R.N., an assistant professor at the School of Nursing at the University of Washington, has won a competitive grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to study how research partnerships between public health leaders in government, academia and the non-profit sector can answer practice-based questions that affect public health policies. Bekemeier is one of just 12 nurse educators from around the country to receive the three-year $350,000 Nurse Faculty Scholar award this year. It is given to junior faculty who show outstanding promise as future leaders in academic nursing. The grant period begins next month.

"I am deeply honored to receive this prestigious and meaningful award," Bekemeier said. "The support I receive will give me the time and mentoring that I need to study how public health professionals in a variety of settings can work together to get evidence into the hands of policy-makers before—rather than after—they make key public health decisions."

Bekemeier, who worked in public health practice for several county health departments in Washington, noted that federal, state and local public health leaders often come under intense pressure to make quick decisions about health policy. This is especially true during periods of economic decline. “My former colleagues, with whom I feel a deep connection and kinship, are faced with difficult decisions that have significant consequences for vulnerable populations who rely heavily on publicly funded health programs. Yet they have very little evidence that tells them how to cut budgets and services that create the least possible harm while still improving health for their communities.”  Bekemeier is concerned that practitioners and policy-makers often lack the time, capacity and resources to fully evaluate and monitor the effects of their decisions on society's most vulnerable people.

“There is very little information that public health officials can turn to when they are called on to make tough decisions about public health practice and policies,” Bekemeier added. “My research will determine whether public health practice-based research networks are able to provide decision-makers with timely, evidence-based information about public health practices and whether that information leads to policies that are more beneficial for the most vulnerable in society.”

Pamela Mitchell, Ph.D., F.A.H.A., F.A.A.N., a professor at the School of Nursing at the University of Washington and director of the University of Washington’s Center for Health Sciences Interprofessional Education and Research, and David Grembowski, Ph.D., M.A., a professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Washington, will serve as Bekemeier’s mentors.

“A wide disconnect has historically existed between research and practice that has inhibited the translation of scientific discovery into relevant and meaningful opportunities for improving people’s health,” Mitchell said. “Dr. Bekemeier’s research will help bridge the wide research gap between the academia and public health services.”

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholars program aims to strengthen the academic productivity and overall excellence of nursing schools by developing the next generation of national leaders in academic nursing. Supporting junior nurse faculty will help curb a shortage of nurse educators that could undermine the health and health care of all Americans. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will vastly increase the number of people who can access health care in the United States. As the number of patients increases, there will be greater demand for skilled nurses and faculty to educate them.  Right now, many schools of nursing are turning away qualified applicants because they lack the faculty to teach them.

The Nurse Faculty Scholars program is helping to curb the shortage by helping more junior faculty succeed in, and commit to, academic careers. The program provides talented junior faculty with salary and research support as well as the chance to participate in institutional and national mentoring activities, leadership training, and networking events with colleagues in nursing and other fields, while continuing to teach and provide institutional, professional and community service in their universities.

The program will also enhance the stature of the scholars’ academic institutions, which will benefit fellow nurse educators seeking professional development opportunities.

To receive the award, scholars must be registered nurses who have completed a research doctorate in nursing or a related discipline and who have held a tenure-eligible faculty position at an accredited nursing school for at least two and no more than five years.

Several Nurse Faculty Scholars have been recognized for outstanding work since they were accepted into the program.  In 2009, Scholar Kynna Wright-Volel, Ph.D., M.S.N., M.P.H., an assistant professor at the UCLA School of Nursing, won the Minority Health Community Trailblazer Award in 2009.  It is given by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in recognition of work to eliminate health disparities.

Earlier this year, Nurse Faculty Scholar Joachim Voss, Ph.D., R.N., A.C.R.N., an assistant professor of nursing at the University of Washington, received the 2010 Undergraduate Research Mentor Award. Voss was among only five faculty to receive this year’s award and the first professor from the School of Nursing ever to receive the honor. The Award is open to all faculty members at the University of Washington, which has 3,600 instructional faculty.

Three Nurse Faculty Scholars—Angela Amar, R.N., Ph.D. of the William F. Connell School of Nursing at Boston College; Cynthia Anderson, Ph.D., W.H.N.P., an assistant professor at the College of Nursing at the University of North Dakota; and Nancy Hanrahan, R.N., Ph.D., an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing—will be inducted into the American Academy of Nursing this fall. Amar is using her RWJF grant to research the factors that encourage college women to report interpersonal violence, Anderson is looking at vitamin D deficiency in pregnant women from the rural, northern plains, and Hanrahan is studying outcomes from patients who are admitted to hospitals to receive psychiatric services. 

The Nurse Faculty Scholars program is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and administered through the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. It is directed by Jacquelyn Campbell, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., who is the Anna D. Wolf chair and professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. To learn more about the program, visit http://www.nursefacultyscholars.org/.

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The University of Washington School of Nursing is consistently the nation’s No. 1-ranked nursing school, according to U.S. News & World Report. Ranked No. 3 in research funding from the National Institutes of Health, the UW School of Nursing is a national and international leader in improving the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities. The school addresses society’s most pressing challenges in health care through innovative teaching, award winning research and community service.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, we work with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years we’ve brought experience, commitment and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those we serve. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, we expect to make a difference in your lifetime.