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Education to Improve Neonatal Transport Safety Leads to Better Infant Healthcare Outcomes

When S.T.A.B.L.E. and HealthStream formally announced their partnership and the upcoming launch of their online course set for March 2020, COVID-19 was a distant threat. In fact, it was not until the day of HealthStream’s press release about the partnership that the coronavirus received the name we all know by now, “COVID-19.” Yet with the arrival of March, national shelter-in-place orders were issued, and an unanticipated new reason for online learning existed.

Pandemic Underscores Need for Online Education Options

While S.T.A.B.L.E. was not pushed into transitioning their content online due to the pandemic, their preparedness allowed them to make a seamless launch during a time when accessing education online is more important than it ever has been. HealthStream recently spoke with Dr. Kristine Karlsen, the creator and director of the S.T.A.B.L.E. Program, about the program’s newly broadened capacity to reach the nation’s healthcare providers at a crucial time.

S.T.A.B.L.E.’s Informal Neonatal Transport Education Beginnings

Dr. Kristine Karlsen began her work as a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner in 1982, a time when neonatal transport was a new domain and there lacked any formal neonatal resuscitation or stabilization education. When transport duties were added to Karlsen’s role in the NICU, - community hospital staff often asked her to return to their facility to teach them about the neonatal issues they just encountered: respiratory distress, prematurity, hypoglycemia, surgical problems, and more. With hopes of creating a practical way for her community hospital staff to learn, retain, and recall the crucial lessons of post-resuscitation/pre-transport stabilization care of sick infants, Karlsen created a mnemonic-based educational tool, and thus, S.T.A.B.L.E. was born.

Parallel Growth—S.T.A.B.L.E. Program and the Need for Stabilization Education

Out of the need for outreach education targeting neonatal pre-transport stabilization, Karlsen developed the internationally recognized program that exists today. The S.T.A.B.L.E. Program focuses on improving the knowledge and skills of each member of the perinatal healthcare team that provides care to both well and sick infants. In the U.S. alone, 10% of babies are born preterm, and there are approximately 70,000 neonatal transports each year—a staggering number that emphasizes the importance of the S.T.A.B.L.E. Program content.

Improving Obstetric Healthcare

First introduced as a company in 1996, S.T.A.B.L.E. has grown internationally to include instructor training and courses available in more than 45 countries. Since 2001, more than 615,000 neonatal and obstetric healthcare providers have completed a S.T.A.B.L.E. Program learner course in an instructor-led training session. S.T.A.B.L.E. is the most widely distributed and implemented neonatal education program to focus exclusively on the post-resuscitation/pre-transport stabilization care of sick infants.

In 2015, S.T.A.B.L.E. surveyed over 1,000 of their instructors. When asked if they had noticed any improvement in neonatal stabilization in their hospital or region, 94% of participants reported they had observed improvement. Some 43% reported “significant improvement” and over half (51%) reported they had observed “some improvement.” Only 6% of participants reported they saw no improvement, but many of those respondents also commented that they had just begun the program or had not formally assessed outcomes.

Reflecting on the successes of the program, Karlsen said, “I truly believe that the program does make a big difference in the lives of families who benefit from the good care their babies received because of the staff’s educational preparedness. Having a healthy family is the paramount goal, and empowering nurses and physicians with the education they need to make the right decisions when these babies are sick is very meaningful.”

“Having a healthy family is the paramount goal, and empowering nurses and physicians with the education they need to make the right decisions when these babies are sick is very meaningful.”

This blog post excerpts an article, “The S.T.A.B.L.E. Program’s Timely Transition to Online Learning: An Interview with Founder Dr. Kristine Karlsen.” The article also includes:

  • Who is S.T.A.B.L.E. for?
  • Furthering the Program’s Reach through Online Education
  • What’s Next for Infant Stabilization Education

Learn more about infant stabilization education by downloading the article.

S.T.A.B.L.E. embodies HealthStream’s commitment to helping clinicians achieve better outcomes in myriad ways, from higher quality, evidence-based perinatal care to decreasing emergency department errors that can have a serious patient impact.


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