Betty Bekemeier, PhD, MPH, FAAN, RN

Betty Bekemeier, PhD, MPH, FAAN, RN
Associate Professor
Associate Professor
Psychosocial & Community Health
Box 357263
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195


I am a nationally recognized public health systems and practice-based researcher with a focus on the structures and practices of state and local health departments in relation to health outcomes and reducing disparities. Much of my research and leadership in advancing public health systems has been conducted with public health leaders involved with state Public Health Practice-based Research Networks (PBRN). I lead several PBRN-related projects, in particular, the Public Health Activities & Services Tracking (PHAST) study. PHAST is a multi-state PBRN study, examining health outcomes associated with variation and change in local public health infrastructure and service delivery. My studies are exposing critical links between effective public health systems and a community’s health. My research emphasizes collaboration with public health leaders in jointly developing evidence needed for practices and policies that support healthy communities. My studies also examine the nature of local partnerships in collaborating around population health.


My teaching expertise is particularly in public/community health nursing, systems, and research. In undergraduate nursing courses she has taught clinical and didactic courses in community health. In the PhD program I am teaching the Role Transitions course, assisting new PhD students in successfully navigating their research roles and developing a community of scholars. In the DNP program I am teaching a course in health systems in the context of cost and care effectiveness.

Practice, Service, Community Involvement

I am recognized as a national public health nursing leader, having served in significant leadership public health nursing positions within the American Public Health Association and the Washington State Public Health Association and having been named a 2010-2013 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholar. I am regularly asked to consult on national studies and leadership panels related to the public health and public health nursing workforce or to speak on behalf of the profession of public health nurses. I also maintain close relationships with public health nursing leaders throughout the state and serves on non-profit several boards.

Current Publications

  • Bekemeier, B., Dunbar, M., Bryan, M., & Morris, M. (2012). Local health departments and specific Maternal and Child Health expenditures: Relationships between spending and need. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, 18(6), 615-622. DOI: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e31825d9764
  • Bekemeier, B., Grembowski, D., Yang, Y., & Herting, J. (2012). Leadership matters: Local health department clinician leaders and their relationship to decreasing health disparities. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, 18(2), E1–E10. doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e318242d4fc
  • Bekemeier, B., Grembowski, D., Yang, Y., & Herting, J. (2012). Local public health delivery of maternal child health services: Are specific activities associated with reductions in Black-White mortality disparities? Maternal and Child Health Journal, 16(3) 615-623. doi: 10.1007/s10995-011-0794-9
  • Bekemeier, B., Chen, A, & Kawakyu, N. (2012). Mandated activities and limited decision-making authority among local public health officials. Frontiers in Public Health Services and Systems Research. Vol. 1: No. 3, Article 4. Available at:
  • Issel, L.M., Bekemeier, B., & Kneipp, S. (2012). A public health nursing research agenda. Public Health Nursing, 29(4), 330-342. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1446.2011.00989.x

Current Research Projects

  • 7/13-present PI. Costs and Cost-drivers of Providing Foundational Public Health Services in Washington State and Relationships with Structural and Community Factors. RWJF-PBRNS Grant #71132. $150,000.
  • 11/12-3/13 PI. A descriptive financial analysis of governmental public health system in WA. RWJF (WA State Department of Health)- $15,000.
  • 3/12-present PI. Washington Practices and Outcomes Variation Study (WPROV Study) in local public health. RWJF-PBRNS #69953. $50,000./
  • 12/11-present PI. Assessing the effectiveness of local public health services in improving population health and reducing health disparities. RWJF-PBRNS #69688, $200,000.
  • 9/10-8/13 PI. Creating a system for monitoring how changes to public health services impact the health of vulnerable populations (The PHAST Study—Public Health Activities and Services Tracking). RWJF-Nurse Faculty Scholars #68042, $350,000.
Student Mentor: 
UW Graduate Faculty: