Anna Beeber Receives RWJF Grant

Anna Beeber, Ph.D., R.N., an assistant professor at the UNC Chapel Hill School of Nursing and a Research Fellow at the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, has won a competitive grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to inform best practices for assisted living. Beeber 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.

“The generous support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will enable me to describe staffing practices in assisted living communities and understand how organizations that provide these services can make the best use of their resources, including nurses and other health care employees,” Beeber said. “This information will help ensure that assisted living residents receive optimal long-term care.”

For her research project, Beeber will interview health care supervisors in roughly 100 assisted living communities throughout the United States and will collect data on how these communities are staffed, what types of services they provide, and how staffing and services relate to use of emergency departments, hospitals, and nursing homes. Beeber will also work with a panel of expertsto interpret the study findings and develop quality of care standards that can help assisted living communities decide how best to meet resident needs.

Beeber’s research follows a large study funded by the National Institutes of Health that examined medical care in assisted living communities. In her research, Beeber will be collecting follow-up data on nursing and other staff services as well as assisted living resident outcomes that weren’t covered in the initial study on medical care.

Assisted living communities provide older adults with housing, meals, medication assistance and other supportive services, as well as 24-hour supervision. The industry grew rapidly over the last decades due to the demands of an aging population. At the same time, it has not gotten as much scientific or government attention as have nursing homes.

“I hope to shed light on a booming—but not well understood—industry,” Beeber said.

Her mentors are: Linda Cronenwett, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., a professor in the School of Nursing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and co-director of the RWJF Executive Nurse Fellows program; and Sheryl Zimmerman, Ph.D., the Kenan Distinguished Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The RWJF 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 at their universities.