Allison H. Burfield, Ph.D., RN, has been awarded a highly competitive grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Nurse Faculty Scholars program. One of just 12 nursing educators from across the United States, 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.