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Allison Burfield, Ph.D., R.N. Selected as a 2013 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholar

NEWS  RELEASE                                                                                                                                        Contact: Gretchen Wright September 11, 2013                                                                                                                                                   202/371-1999

                                                       University of North Carolina at Charlotte School of Nursing’s Burfield                                                     Named a 2013 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ‘Nurse Faculty Scholar’

                                                                  Nursing Researcher Selected for Prestigious Program that                                                                         Advances Careers of Talented Junior Nurse Faculty

Allison H. Burfield, PhD, RN, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, is one of just 12 nursing educators from across the United States to win a highly competitive grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Nurse Faculty Scholars program this year. Burfield will receive a three-year, $350,000 award to promote her academic career and support her research. The Nurse Faculty Scholar award is given to junior faculty who show outstanding promise as future leaders in academic nursing.

“This award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation provides a wonderful opportunity to conduct interdisciplinary research that evaluates how we can reduce the use of medications that have an altering effect on perception, emotion, or behavior on older adults, and better intervene and treat pain. The aging population is growing; there are 5.4 million people in the United States and 35.6 million people worldwide who have cognitive impairment and are considered older adults. It is estimated that as many as 80 percent of these populations are suffering with chronic pain. In addition, the World Health Organization reports that there are 7.7 million new cases of older adults with dementia every year. Many of these people may be receiving inappropriate psychoactive medications rather than the safest analgesic(s) for pain, because they are unable to verbalize their pain due to cognitive impairment,” Burfield said.   For her research project, Burfield plans to evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention to assess and treat pain in older adult suffering with dementia. The findings from this study could provide important information into how to can improve pain assessment and treatment, improve socialization, reduce the risk of falls and injury, and improve the overall quality of life of those residing in long-term care.

“The goal of my research is to improve how medications are used in older adults to reduce polypharmacy and medication costs, while improving care outcomes and quality of life,” she added.  “The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholar program will provide support for my research and enable the resources needed to infuse the best and most effective care of the elderly into the nursing curriculum I teach.”

The RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholars program is strengthening the academic productivity and overall excellence of nursing schools by developing the next generation of leaders in academic nursing.  Burfield is part of the program’s sixth cohort. Supporting junior nurse faculty will help curb a shortage of nurse educators that could undermine the health and health care of all Americans. The Affordable Care Act is vastly increasing 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 as well as faculty to educate them.

Right now, many schools of nursing are turning away qualified applicants because they do not have the faculty to teach them. The RWJF Nurse Faculty Scholars program is helping more junior faculty succeed in, and commit to, academic careers. The program also enhances 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.

The Nurse Faculty Scholars also support the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, which is engaging nurses and nurse champions in a nationwide effort to improve health care by implementing recommendations from the groundbreaking Institute of Medicine report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. The Campaign for Action is backed by RWJF and AARP, and has Action Coalitions working in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

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, PhD, RN, FAAN, who is the Anna D. Wolf chair and professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing.

To learn more about the program, visit

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About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 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 health and health care, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measurable, and timely change. For more than 40 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at