Dr. Valerie Gruss to Receive 2018 Judith L. Storfjell Distinguished Award for Scholarly Practice

Photo of Dr. GrussValerie A. Gruss, PhD, CNP-BC has been awarded the UIC College of Nursing Judith Lloyd Storfjell Distinguished Award for Scholarly Practice.  The award recognizes a UIC College of Nursing faculty or alumnus who has made an outstanding contribution to nursing practice.  Dr. Gruss is most deserving of this prestigious honor.

Dr. Gruss has advanced best practices through her research on enhancing today's health care workforce through training. In 2015, as co-PI, Dr. Gruss was awarded a three-year, $2.5 million dollar HRSA Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP) grant to establish and operate a geriatric education program preparing primary care professionals to work in inter-professional teams and provide high-quality, patient-centered care to older adults. Her online program Enhancement of Geriatric Care for All through Training and Empowerment: An Inter-professional Imperative (ENGAGE-IL) provides specialty geriatric clinical content, increasing the number of health care professionals with the attitudes, knowledge, and skills to work in teams to improve health outcomes for older adults. This collaborative program has content developed by faculty from multiple UIC health science colleges. This online clinical education program helped train over 1,300 clinicians during the first 9 months following launch. The program offers free continuing education credits to nurses, physicians, pharmacists, social workers and occupational therapists (engageil.com).

The HRSA award also includes a focus on advancing best practice related to dementia care through education and training of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and related dementias. In order to provide education about AD and related dementias to families, caregivers, direct care, workers, health professions students, faculty, and providers, and the general public, Dr. Gruss created a consumer focused Mobile App called the "Dementia Guide Expert for families." The app is available for free for IOS (Apple App Store) and for Android (Google Play). During the first six months, the app was viewed/downloaded over 3,000 times in six different countries. The app is now being translated into Spanish. Dr. Gruss is now collaborating with the Alzheimer's Association and creating a one-hour film about dementia that is expected to launch in Fall 2017. In addition, Dr. Gruss has collaborated with a group of dementia experts to develop an evidence-based algorithm to assist caregivers in managing persons with dementia symptoms to facilitate wide-spread and comprehensive training. She transformed that clinical algorithm into a downloadable free mobile application called Behavioral Symptoms of Dementia. The app has been downloaded in countries around the world.

Dr. Gruss is a Clinical Associate Professor in the College of Nursing, Department of Biobehaviorial Health Science, and is also the lead clinical consultant on a Federal Demonstration Project for the State of Illinois, "Money Follows the Person/Pathways to Community Living", which transitions eligible seniors out of nursing homes and back to the community.  The program has assisted over 2,300 individuals and resulted in Illinois being awarded a $55.7 million in enhanced Medicaid reimbursements over 5 years (2007-2011). In addition, Dr. Gruss has made significant contributions to improve the health and care of individuals and communities by developing and presenting a series of clinical webinars on how to manage persons with chronic illnesses in the community. These webinars are available to state agencies participating in the Money Follows the Person program including; the Illinois Department of Aging, Illinois Department of Rehab Services and Illinois Department of Mental Health.

Dr. Gruss’ research and expertise as a nurse practitioner has been recognized through multiple awards including the Excellence in Research Award by the Gerontological Advance Practice Nurses Association (2015 and 2016); the UIC College of Nursing’s Faculty Practice Award, and the Best Career in Long Term Care Award by the Florida Medical Directors Association/American Medical Directors’ Association (2008). Additionally, as an expert educator, Dr. Gruss was awarded the UIC’s Teaching Recognition Program award (2015-2016).