Nursing professor awarded elder-care research grant


Brittany Jeglum

Dr. Virginia Burggraf, a highly respected nursing professor of 11 years at Radford University, is well-known for many things other than teaching. Among university students, she is a gerontological nursing professor, but among those who know of her accomplishments, she is a woman with a passion for helping the older population. From her Bachelor of Science in nursing from Cornell University New York Hospital School of Nursing in 1964, to her current work at RU, Dr. Burggraf has accomplished an array of respectable research and has been awarded a significant amount of research grants. Her most recent, a $140,000 elder-care research grant, was awarded this year through the Health Resources and Services Administration.

The grant, given to assist the needs of elderly in Southwest Virginia, will allow nurses higher education so that they may help the elderly meet these needs. Through grants alone, Burggraf has been awarded more than $1,260,000 toward nursing and research. At RU, she has done much to advance the nursing program and bring higher education to future nurses.

Because the elder-care research grant was part of a three year grant, more than just the $140,000 was awarded. Due to this, Burggraf will be publishing her third book titled “Health Aging: Clinical Guidelines for Advanced Practice Nurses.” She will also be distributing DVDs to every nursing home in Southwest Virginia that will be used as quick access to nursing instruction.

Another accomplishment of this grant will be the holding of an interdisciplinary conference titled: Falls Risk Prevention and Protection of Older Adults in Roanoke, Virginia.

As an established grant writer for the nursing program at RU, Burggraf tells of how her passion for it began many years before. During the measles epidemic in 1992, Burggraf wrote her first grant to fund immunizations due to the large death of infected children. This major pediatric grant grew into the Every Child By Two organization cofounded by Rosalyn Carter and Betty Bumpers.
Her grant career, beginning with the Center for Disease Control, had taken off out of her passion for others, and continues down this road twenty years later.

“This is my idea of grants: doing good things with other people’s money,”Burggraf said. “The money is out there, you just have to be interested in going at it.”

As an advocate for elderly nursing care, Burgraff has published numerous newspaper and journal articles, books, book chapters, and book and film reviews. She has contributed to nurse education and elderly care. Locally, she is on the Board of Directors at Warm Hearth Village comprehensive retirement community in Blacksburg, Va. Closer to the university, however, she takes on a leadership position in the Epsilon Psi Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau, RU’s honor society of nursing.

Burggraf’s involvement with RU’s nursing education and the elderly population does not stop here. Burggraf has proven that she will continue to do as much as she can to improve elderly health care and nurse edification beyond the walls of RU. She discusses how we live in a medically underserved area, and how there should be no question to applying for as many grants as possible. A grant application, as she puts it, is “meeting the criteria, but going one step ahead.”

It is not just a form to be filled out, but a way to look further into the needs of people.
“It’s not luck, it’s knowledge, expertise, and innovation,”Burggraf said. “You win some, you lose some, [but] once you get bitten by the passion to write a grant, you don’t stop.”