MSU professor's training rubric

Minnesota State University researchers Stacey Van Gelderen (left) and Ashley Engebretson (right) pose with actresses Annie Reyelts (middle left) and Marlene Grensteiner during a simulation training exercise at MSU's Clinical Sciences Building. Van Gelderen developed a training rubric to better prepare nursing professionals and students for working with families. The results of research on the rubric are soon to be published in an industry academic journal. 

MANKATO — A local professor’s research could help train the next generation of nurses for their field — both at home and abroad.

Stacey Van Gelderen, an associate professor at Minnesota State University’s College of Allied Health and Nursing, developed a training rubric, or authoritative protocol, for better family care as part of her doctoral dissertation in 2012.

She and fellow researchers have since tested the rubric during simulations with professional and student nurses.

The team’s latest research findings, collected across four sites in the U.S. and United Kingdom in 2018, will soon be published in a prominent academic journal covering the nursing industry.

“It’s an honor,” Van Gelderen said of the upcoming publication in the Clinical Simulation in Nursing Journal. “It’s a very prestigious journal to submit to for simulation learning for nurses.”

Van Gelderen took a sabbatical from MSU last year to observe the “Van Gelderen Family Care Rubric” in action at Keele University and Salford University in England and two additional sites in the U.S. A total of 210 nursing staff and students trained using the rubric, resulting in the testing method being considered a reliable and valid tool.

The rubric is about improving communication between nurses and families. During the simulations, including those at MSU’s Maverick Family Nursing Simulation Center, Van Gelderen observes and offers feedback on how trainees could improve their interactions. She said it comes down to being more compassionate in care, making sure the nurse knows the patient and their family’s wishes, and using terminology the patient understands.

“By giving the skill set to the nurses to get the families through, that will better support the patients in the long run,” she said.

Van Gelderen said the work wouldn’t have been possible without her fellow researchers. She developed the rubric, but fellow MSU researchers Ashley Engebretson, Sabrina Ehmke and Marilyn Swan also collected data along with three others from the United Kingdom.

“I wanted a tool that could help nurses be better nurses,” Van Gelderen said. “That’s where that passion came from, is from my colleagues.”

Kristine Retherford, dean of MSU’s College of Allied Health and Nursing, said she’d like to see the rubric become more widely used in nurse trainings.

“This rubric she’s helped develop has a very strong family focus,” she said. “You don’t just treat an individual, you treat the whole family.”

She praised Van Gelderen’s hard work developing the training tool.

“For a fairly young faculty member to have accomplished something that’s receiving worldwide attention is wonderful and so well deserved,” she said.

The International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning, which publishes the monthly journal, recognizes Van Gelderen’s work as the only known family care rubric so far.

Van Gelderen said a nationally recognized children’s hospital on the east coast is adopting the rubric in its training methods for nursing staff.

Other health organizations could soon follow. Van Gelderen attended the International Family Nursing Association’s conference in August at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington D.C., where international nurses used the rubric during simulation training.

Afterward, conference attendees from a nursing school in Ireland contacted Van Gelderen about helping them implement the rubric into their curriculum.

“It validates all the hard work you put in,” Van Gelderen said of her work’s reach. “I find it exciting that people find it meaningful and worthy to continue to use.”

Follow Brian Arola @BrianArola

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