Dawn Vanderhoef, DNP, RN, PMHNP/CNS-BC
2010 Award for Innovation ~ Individual

A new idea usually starts with a problem. For Dawn Vanderhoef, DNP, RN, PMHNP/CNS-BC, the problem was communication. An Assistant Professor in the Psychiatric Mental Health Practitioner Program at Vanderbilt University, she especially focused on improving communication in an educational environment. “I noted a disconnect between how faculty supervisors, clinical preceptors, and students communicated,” she says. She turned to technology as a way to mend that disconnect.

Vanderhoef observed that at the time, all commercial and proprietary online clinical logs available were based upon primary care diagnostic categories. She accordingly began to work with Dr. Jeff Gordon, an informatics specialist, to develop an online clinical log which incorporated the DSM-IV TR diagnostic criteria. She used ANCC certification criteria and NONPF PMHNP competencies as a guide so that the log incorporated the nomenclature unique to psychiatric mental health care. Vanderhoef says she views this technology “as a potential database to access and evaluate students’ clinical encounters in the clinical setting.” Her Online Clinical Log (OLC) enables the aggregation of data in order to evaluate quality of care, whether it be a student’s clinical encounters, an employment portfolio categorizing services rendered by diagnostic category or client demographics, or a cumulative look at the entire PMHNP program’s clinical encounters.”

Vanderhoef integrated the new technology with two other programs to form the “Technology Triad.” This education model is composed of three technological components: digital audio recordings, Saba-Centra software for web-based conferencing, and her online clinical log. Together these three programs enable a more active engagement between faculty and students during students’ clinical encounters. Vanderhoef says, “the Technology Triad is a model that was used to address the gap in communication to assist students in progressing in clinical and getting coordinated feedback from faculty and clinical preceptor.” She recognizes that encounters between APRN-PMHs and consumers are unique and very different from other clinician-patient contact and therefore a unique brand of training is required.

For the past six years, Vanderhoef has taught and mentored students and faculty in the use of Triad Technology. As for the future, Vanderhoef envisions an expansion and refinement of the technology to allow for a more widespread use of the Online Clinical Log. “I view an Online Clinical Log as a potential database to access and evaluate students’ clinical encounters in the clinical setting. It can be used by individual students in portfolio development, individual programs, and on a larger scale to evaluate student clinical encounters nationally.” As she pursues her second PhD and builds upon her vast knowledge of online medical records and databases, we cannot wait to see what she will come up with next!