Dr. Williams began working as a staff nurse and later as a clinical specialist in psychiatric mental health nursing. Her academic career began as an instructor at Saint Anselm College (SAC), a Benedictine liberal arts college where she progressed to tenured professor and coordinator of the baccalaureate program with responsibility for managing all student and curricular issues for about 300 students as well as teaching assignments for about 20 faculty.

She was appointed associate professor at University of Miami (UM) School of Nursing in 1994. There she conducted research and taught undergraduate, graduate and doctoral courses. In 1995, she accepted a joint appointment as Senior Nurse Researcher to the GRECC (Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center) at the Miami VA Medical Center and a position on the Executive Committee of Miami Geriatric Education and Clinical Center (MAGEC). MAGEC is a HRSA funded interdisciplinary center at UM School of Medicine with a mission to educate professionals about geriatrics. In 2000, she became a charter member of the Steering Committee of the Florida Teaching Nursing Home (FTNH) funded by the state of Florida and sponsored by the Agency for Health Care Administration and the Stein Gerontological Institute at the Miami Jewish Home and Hospital for the Aged. The FTNH was a statewide interdisciplinary effort whose mission was to improve the quality of care in nursing homes in Florida. Dr. Williams' work on the FTNH steering committee (2000-2007) highlighted the critical role of nursing in the care of institutionalized elders with dementia.

She is lead author of Therapeutic Interaction in Nursing (2nd ed.) released in September 2007. This book focuses on communication concepts and strategies grounded in current theory and research and addresses a wide range of situations that nurses encounter in their daily interactions with clients. Dr. Williams has published numerous articles in scholarly journals reporting her research with older adults and the problems of coping with cognitive impairment and health disparities.


Dr. Williams has taught courses at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels. Since coming to Florida Atlantic University in September, 2007, she has taught Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing, Nursing Research, Advanced Nursing Research Applied Quantitative Design and Methods, Doctoral Seminar I, Doctoral Seminar III, and Crafting a Life of Scholarship in the PhD program. She has also taught Nursing Theory at the graduate level. Her program of research focuses on the mental health of older persons with dementia and their families and improving health care for vulnerable older adults especially those from minority ethnic populations.

Currently she is working on several studies including communication between caregivers and persons with cognitive impairment, stress in caregivers and persons attending a day program for memory impairment, and the role of culture in willingness to be screened for memory problems. As a member of a research team that includes Drs. Tappen and Rosselli from FAU, she is working is to improve methods of assessing dementia and mental health for minority older adults.

Recent Publications

  • Abbott, L.S., Williams, C.L., Slate, E., Gropper, S. "Promoting Heart Health among Rural African Americans" accepted for publication in The Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing (131/17).
  • Williams, C.L., Newman, D., Hammar, L.M. Preliminary Psychometric Properties of the Verbal and Nonverbal Interaction Observational Measure for Communication in Persons with Dementia, accepted for publication in Issues in Mental Health Nursing (01/03/17).
  • Wiese, L.K., Williams, C.L., Tappen, R.M., Rosselli, M. Assessment of Basic Knowledge about Alzheimer's Disease among Older Rural Residents: A Pilot Test of a New Measure, accepted for publication in Journal of Nursing Measurement (1/20/17).
  • Sullivan, G., Williams, C. Older Adult Transitioning into Long–term Care a Meta–synthesis, accepted for publication in Journal of Gerontological Nursing (10/12/16)
  • *Molinari, V., Hobday, J., Roker, R., Kunik, M.  Kane, R.A., Kaas, M., Mehrotra, C., Williams, C., Robbins, J.C., & Dobbs, D. (2016) Impact of serious mental illness online training for certified nursing assistants in long-term care. Gerontology and Geriatrics Education, 1-16. doi:10.1080/02701960.2016.118881
  • Rahemi, Z., Williams, C. (2016). Older adults of underrepresented populations and their end-of-life preferences: An integrative review. Advances in Nursing Science, 39(4), E1–E2. doi:10.1097/ANS.0000000000000148
  • Williams, C.L., Tappen, R.M., Wiese, L., Corbett, M. Newman, D., Pinos, S., Curtis, B., Murray, B. (2016). Stress in persons with dementia: Benefits of a memory center day program. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing 30, 531-538 doi: 10.1016/j.apnu.2016.04.011
  • Wiese, L. K., & Williams, C. L. (2015). Annual cognitive assessment for older adults: Update for nurses. Journal of Community Health Nursing, 32(4), 187-198. doi:10.1080/07370016.2015.1087244
  • Gall-Ojurongbe, S., Williams, C.L. (2015). Improving Psychiatric Nurses’ Detection of Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 36(8), 649-654. doi: 10.3109/01612840.2015.1047071
  • Abbott, L. S., & Williams, C. L. (2015). Influences of social determinants of health on African Americans living with HIV in the rural southeast: A qualitative metasynthesis. Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, 26(4), 340–356, doi:10.1016/j.jana.2015.03.004
  • *Chiang-Hanisko, L., Williams, C.L., Newman, D., Tappen, R.M (2015). Medication use among ethnically diverse older adults in the United States. Research in Gerontological Nursing, 8(6), 273-285. doi: 10.3928/19404921-20150429-01. 
  • *Williams, C. (2015). Maintaining caring relationships in spouses affected by Alzheimer’s disease. International Journal of Human Caring, 19(3), 12-17.
  • Rahemi, Z., Williams, C. (2015). Development of a Dignity-Enhancing Model of Caring for Older Adults, International Journal of Human Caring, 19(3), 36-40
  • Wiese, L., Williams, C., Tappen, R. (2014). Analysis of Barriers to Cognitive Screening in Rural Populations, Advances in Nursing Science, 37(4), 327-339.
  • * Bonorandi, A., Williams, C. (2014). Voices of couples affected by Alzheimer's disease. FAU Undergraduate Research Journal, 3(1), 57-63.
  • * Tappen, R., Rosselli, M., Williams, C., Gibson, S. (2014). Multiethnic perspectives on mainstream American. Journal of Cultural Diversity, 21(2), 67-73.
  • *Sadule-Rios, Tappen, RM, Williams, CL, Rosselli, M. (2014). Older Hispanics' Explanatory Model of Depression, Archives of Psychiatric Nursing. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 28, 242-249.
  • *Brennen, M. & Williams, C. (2013). The effect of a lifestyle management program on the cardiovascular risk factors of a group of African American women. The ABNF Journal, 24 (4), 92-97.
  • *Tanioka, T., Chiba Onishi, Y., Kataoka, M., Kawamura, A., Tomotake, M.,Williams; C., Yasuhara, Y., Mifune, K. (2013). Factors associated with discharge of long-term inpatients with schizophrenia in Japan: A retrospective study, Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 34, 256-264.
  • *Williams, C., Parker, C. (2012). Development of an observer rating scale for caregiver communication in persons with Alzheimer's disease, Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 33, 244-250. DOI: 10.3109/01612840.2011.653040.
  • *Koszalinski, R., Williams, C. (2012). Embodying identity in chemotherapy induced alopecia. Perspectives in Psychiatric Care, 48(2), 116-121. DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-6163.2011.00314.x.
  • *Engström, G., Marmstål, L., Williams, C., and Götell, E. (2011). Evaluation of communication behavior in nursing home residents who receive Music Therapeutic Care, Nursing Report, 1(11), e4. DOI: 10:4081.
  • Tappen, R.M., Gibson, S., Williams, C.L. (2011). Explanations of AD in Ethnic Minority Participants Undergoing Cognitive Screening, 26(4), 334 - 339. DOI:10.1177/1533317511412047
  • Roach, K.E., Tappen, R.M., Kirk-Sanchez, N., Williams, C.L., Loewenstein, D. (2011). A randomized clinical trial of an activity specific exercise program for individuals with Alzheimer's disease in long term care settings. Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy, 34(2), 50-56.
  • Williams, C. (2011). Marriage and mental health: When a spouse has Alzheimer's disease. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 25(3), 220-222. DOI: 10.1016/j.apnu.2011.02.003
  • Williams, C. (2011). What spouse caregivers know about communication in Alzheimer's disease: Development of the AD: Communication Knowledge Test. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 32, 28–34. DOI: 10.3109/01612840.2010.521292.
  • Engström, G., Hammar, L., Williams, C., and Götell, E. (2010). The impact of singing in caring for a person with dementia: Single case analysis of video recorded sessions. Music and Medicine. DOI: 10:1177/1943862110386048.
  • Williams, C.L. Tappen, R.M., Rosselli, M., Keane, F. Newlin, K. (2010). Willingness to be screened and tested for cognitive impairment: Cross cultural comparison. American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease & Other Dementias, 25, 167-172. DOI: 10 10.77/1533317509352333.
  • Williams, C.L. Tappen, R.M., Rosselli, M., Keane, F. Newlin, K. (2009). Cross Cultural Comparison of Community Dwelling Adults: Willingness to be Screened for Cognitive Impairment and to Pursue Follow-up Diagnostic Evaluation. American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease & Other Dementias, 15(6), 1-7. DOI: 10 10.77/1533317509352333.
  • Tappen, R.M. & Williams, C.L. (2009). Therapeutic conversation to improve mood in nursing home residents with Alzheimer's disease. Research in Gerontological Nursing, 2(4), 267-275. DOI: 10.9999/19404921-20090428-02.
  • Rosselli, M., Tappen, R.M., Williams, C.L., Salvatierra, J. Zoller, Y. (2009). Level of education and category fluency task among Spanish speaking elders: Clustering and switching strategies. Aging, Neuropsychology and Cognition, 2, 1-24.
  • Keane, F., Tappen, R.M., Williams, C.L., & Rosselli, M. (2009). Comparison of African American and Afro-Caribbean older adults' self-reported health status, function and substance use. Journal of Black Psychology, 35(1), 44-62.
  • Tappen, R.M., Williams, C.L. (2008). Development and testing of the Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias Mood Scale. Nursing Research, 57(6), 426-435.
  • Williams, C. Tappen, R.T. (2008). Exercise training for depressed older adults with Alzheimer's disease. Aging and Mental Health, 12(1), 72-80.
  • Williams, C. Tappen, R.T. (2007). The Effect of Exercise on Mood in Nursing Home Residents with Alzheimer's Disease, American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease & Other Dementias, 22(5), 389-397.
  • Rosselli, M. Tappen, R.T. Williams, C., Salvatierra, J. (2006). The influence of education and gender on the attention subtests of the Mini-Mental State Examination in Spanish speaking elders. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, 21, 677-686.
  • Williams, C., Molinari, V., Bond, J., Smith, M., Hyer, K., Malphurs, J. (2006). Development of a curriculum for long term care nurses to improve recognition of depression in dementia Educational Gerontology, 32(8), 647-667.
  • Ruiz, J.G., Smith, M., vanZuilen, M.H., Williams, C., & Mintzer, M.J. (2006). The educational impact of a computer-based training tutorial on dementia in long term care for Licensed Practical Nursing students. Gerontology and Geriatrics Education, 26(3), 67-79.
  • Williams, C. Rittman, M. Boylstein, C., Faircloth, C., Qin, H. (2005). Qualitative and quantitative measurement of depression in veterans recovering from stroke. Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, 42 (3), 277- 290.
  • Williams, C., Hyer, K. Kelly, A., Leger-Krall, S., Tappen, R.M. (2005). Development of nurse competencies to improve dementia care. Geriatric Nursing, 26(2), 98-102.
  • Rittman, M., Faircloth, C., Boylstein, C., Gubrium, J., Williams, C., Van Puymbroeck Holt, M., Ellis, C. (2004). The experience of time in the transition from hospital to home following stroke. Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, 41 (3A), 1-11.
  • Gubrium, J., Rittman, M., Williams, C., Young, M.E., Boylstein, C. (2003). Benchmarking as everyday functional assessment in stroke recovery. Journal of Gerontology, Social Sciences, 58B (4), S203-S211.
  • Tappen, R., Williams, C., Barry, C., DiSesa, D. (2001). Conversation intervention with Alzheimer's patients: Increasing the relevance of communication. Clinical Gerontologist, 24(3/4), 63-75.
  • Williams, C., Tappen, R.T., Buscemi, C., Rivera, R., LezCano, J. (2001). Obtaining family consent for participation in Alzheimer's research in a Cuban-American population: Barriers and strategies to overcome them American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias, 16(3), 183-187.
  • Tappen, R., Williams, C., Fishman, S., Touhy, T. (1999). Persistence of self in advanced Alzheimer's disease. Image: The Journal for Nursing Scholarship, 31(2), 121-125.
  • Williams, C. & Vines, S. (1999). Broken past, fragile future: Personal stories of high-risk adolescent mothers. Journal of the Society of Pediatric Nurses, 4(1), 15-23.
  • Williams, C., Tappen, R. (1999). Can we create a therapeutic relationship with nursing home residents in the later stages of Alzheimer's disease? Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services, 37(3): 1-8.
  • Tappen, R., Williams, C. (1998). Attribution of emotion in advanced Alzheimer's disease. American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 14, 257-264.
  • Tappen, R., Williams-Burgess, C., Edelstein, J. Touhy, T. Fishman, S. (1997). Communicating with individuals with Alzheimer's disease: Examination of recommended strategies. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 11(5), 249-256.
  • Williams-Burgess, C., Ugarriza, D. Gabbai, M. (1996). Agitation in older adults with dementia: A research synthesis. Online Journal of Knowledge Synthesis for Nursing, 3(37).
  • Chen, C.; Paxton, P. & Williams-Burgess, C. (1996). Feeding tube placement verification using gastric pH measurement. Online Journal of Knowledge Synthesis for Nursing, 3(34).
  • Beyea, S., Farley, J.K., Williams-Burgess, C. (1996). Teaching baccalaureate nursing students research utilization. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 4, 215-219.
  • Williams-Burgess, C., Vines, S., DiTulio, M. (1995). The Parent-Baby Venture program: Prevention for child abuse. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing, 8(3), 15-23.
  • Kimball, M.J.; Williams-Burgess, C. (1995). Failure to thrive: The silent epidemic of the elderly. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 9(2), 99-105.
  • Vines, S. & Williams-Burgess, C. (1994). Effects of a community health nursing Parent-Baby (Ad) Venture Program on depression and other selected maternal-child health outcomes. Public Health Nursing, 11(3), 188-195.
  • Williams-Burgess, C., Matzo, M., Perrin, K. (1993). Integrating communication skills in nursing education: Focus on older adults. Gerontology and Geriatrics Education, 13(3), 47-54.
  • Matzo, M., Perrin, K., Williams-Burgess, C. (1993). Curriculum development in gerontological nursing practice. Gerontology and Geriatrics Education, 13(3), 7-18.
  • Williams-Burgess, C., Kimball, M.J. (1992). The neglected elder: A family systems approach. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services, 30(10), 21-25.
  • Thies, K., Williams-Burgess, C. (1992). Communication as a progressive curriculum concept. Nurse Educator, 26(6), 248-249.
  • Perrin, K., Williams-Burgess, C. (1990). Nursing approaches to the suicidal patient in the critical care unit. Critical Care Nurse, 10(7), 59-63.
  • Thies, K., Williams, C. (1987). The clinical application of mental health concepts in an integrated curriculum. Journal of Nursing Education, 26(6), 248-250.
  • Books and Book Chapters:
  • Williams, C. (2008). Therapeutic Interaction in Nursing Second Edition, Boston: Jones and Bartlett. (lead author and editor)
  • Williams, C., Davis, C. (2004). Therapeutic Interaction in Nursing, Boston: Jones and Bartlett. (lead author and editor)
  • Williams-Burgess, C. (1991). Cognitive coping strategies in labor and delivery in D. Angelini and C. Knapp (Eds.) Case Studies in Perinatal Nursing, Gaithersburg, Maryland: Aspen, 149-159.


  • 2013 Florida Atlantic University, Excellence in Graduate Mentoring Award
  • 2013 Nursing Excellence Regional Winner in the Education and Mentorship category
  • 2010-2014 Ronald and Elizabeth Blake Distinguished Professor in Nursing, Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing
  • 2007 Mentor Award, Beta Tau Chapter, Sigma Theta Tau International
  • 2007-09 Mentor for Tamika Sanchez-Jones, PhD
  • Claire M. Fagin/John A. Hartford Foundation/Atlantic Philanthropies Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 2005 Finalist in the Mentoring category for Nursing Spectrum's Nursing Excellence Awards Program
  • 2004 Elected Fellow in the Gerontological Society of America
  • 2002 William R. Johnson Most Valuable Mentor Award - Florida Education Fund's McKnight Doctoral Fellowship Program
  • 2002-4 Faculty mentor for doctoral student Charles Buscemi, ARNP, Hartford Foundation "Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity Scholar's Program".
  • 2001-3 Faculty mentor for doctoral student Tamika Sanchez, RN, MBA, MSN. Hartford Foundation "Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity Scholar's Program".
  • 2001 Distinguished Lecturer Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.
  • 2000 Instructional Advancement Grant, "Improving Nursing Teaching/Learning Strategies" University of Miami
  • 1999 James M. McLamore Summer Research Award, University of Miami
  • 1997 Mentee, VA, VISN 8, HSR&D Development Project, Department of Veterans Affairs, $2,100
  • 1995 South Florida Nursing Research Society Award
  • 1995 University of Miami, General Research Support Award 1995 Instructional Advancement Grant, "Improving Knowledge About Older Adults in Health and Illness", May, University of Miami
  • 1991 Sabbatical, Saint Anselm College, Spring semester
  • 1986 Saint Anselm College Summer Research Grant.
  • 1986-91 Division of Nursing Grant "Improving Gerontological Nursing Education": Selected as one of five faculty member experts to receive release time for independent study, self-directed clinical experiences, and attendance at national conferences in gerontology.
  • 1971-1973 Traineeship, National Institute of Mental Health.


  • BSN from Fitchburg State University, Fitchburg, Mass,1971
  • MS in Advanced Psychiatric Nursing from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, 1973
  • DNSc from Boston University, Boston, Mass., 1986
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist in Adult Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing, Board Certified