With a new three-year, $450,000 fellowship grant, nursing professor Virginia LeBaron and her team will expand, refine, and test a smartwatch prototype that assesses clinicians' conversations.
LeBaron, the Kluge-Schakat Associate Professor of Compassionate Care at the School of Nursing, a nurse scientist, and NIH-grantee, is one of 16 nurse scientists to earn a Betty Irene Moore Fellowship for Nurse Leaders and Innovators in 2023 as part of the program's fourth cohort.
With the $450,000, three-year grant, LeBaron and mentor Laura Barnes, a professor in UVA School of Engineering’s systems and information engineering department, will further refine, deploy, and test the impact of a new smartwatch prototype called CommSense that records conversations between patients and providers and assesses the quality of their communication with patients. The resulting assessment aims to help clinicians improve their bedside manner, their care quality, and patients’ outcomes, as well as ensuring that patients’ pain levels are well managed.
LeBaron, a palliative care nurse practitioner who’s practiced in both rural and global settings, also earned a $3.4 million NIH grant in 2021 to develop, deploy, and test an in-home health sensing system to help patients with cancer and their caregivers monitor, assess, and, ultimately, predict pain episodes in the home so interventions are personalized and pain is well-controlled.
“So much of healthcare rests on how effectively we communicate—about diagnoses, disease processes, treatment options, and what patients and their loved ones can expect. But equally important to the words we use is the tone and manner in which we say them. This technology is powerful, important, and much needed, and we are incredibly proud of Virginia’s work in this critical space.”Dean Marianne Baernholdt
“So much of healthcare rests on how effectively we communicate—about diagnoses, disease processes, treatment options, and what patients and their loved ones can expect,” said Marianne Baernholdt, dean of UVA School of Nursing and fellow nurse scientist who studies quality and safety. “But equally important to the words we use is the tone and manner in which we say them. This technology is powerful, important, and much needed, and we are incredibly proud of Virginia’s work in this critical space.”
The new Moore fellowship, funded through an initial $37.5 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and an additional $7.5 million grant awarded in 2023 to expand the program’s capacity, recognizes early- to mid-career nursing scholars and innovators with a high potential to accelerate leadership in nursing research, practice, education, policy, and entrepreneurship. As a Moore Fellow, LeBaron will also take part in hybrid online and in person learning with national experts on topics related to leadership, innovation, strategic thinking, entrepreneurship, and collaboration.
“Our fellows go on a unique journey of self-discovery during their three years in the fellowship program in which they delve deeper into their roles as leaders and discover methods for spearheading change and promoting more equitable health care practices for their populations of interest,” said Heather M. Young, national program director for the fellowship and Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis dean emerita. “These fellows are the next generation of nursing leaders, and they have immense potential to transform the nursing profession and improve health equity and health care services.”
The fellowship program is made possible by Betty Irene Moore’s passion to advance nursing with the goal of better outcomes for individuals, families and communities. The foundation seeks to prepare nurses as collaborative leaders with the skills and confidence to inspire others, enact change and challenge the status quo. With the creation of the Betty Irene Moore Fellowship for Nurse Leaders and Innovators, the foundation supports nurse leaders who take ideas to scale that advance high-quality, high-value care and optimal health outcomes.