Relational Coordination Collaborative

RC in the US Veterans Health Administration

RC in the VA Logo

RC in the VA Toolkit

Relational Coordination is a theory of organizational performance that has been shown to predict team performance and high reliability through improved communication and relationships within and between teams.

VA researchers and staff are increasingly using RC as a tool for to better understand team dynamic and improve team performance.  The RC in VA program aims to help teams identify structures that support RC and introduce changes and interventions to sustain RC and promote organizational change.

The RC in VA program is a VA Health Services and Research Development funded project (2020-2023) that provides education, tools and consultation to VA researchers and staff.  RC in VA participants have the option to use the RC Survey at no cost to enable organizations to understand where relationships are strongest and weakest within their teams, departments and organizations.  The RC Survey is designed to act as a diagnostic step to improving performance or to evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention.

RC in VA participants are encouraged to become members of the Relational Coordination Collaborative, a global learning community of researchers and practitioners who use RC theory in their research and practice. Members gain free access to monthly educational series (RC Cafes) and network opportunities as well as discounted trainings and workshops.

If you think RC could be a useful tool for your team or organizational group, browse the RC in the VA website for the most up-to-date information.  If interested, reach out to to schedule a consultation with the RC in the VA team.

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Founding Members

Heather Gilmartin

Assistant Professor, University of Colorado Anschutz; Core Investigator, Denver/Seattle Center of Innovation, Veterans Administration

Heather Gilmartin, PhD, NP is a health services researcher and nurse scientist in the Denver/Seattle Center of Innovation for Veteran-Centered and Value Driven Care at the Rocky Mountain Regional Veteran Health Administration (VA) Medical Center. She has been a core investigator since 2016. From 2014-2016, she was a VA post-doctoral nurse fellow. Her research focus is on understanding and optimizing the culture of healthcare to enhance employee engagement and patient safety. She aims to achieve this by facilitating organizational learning through the implementation and dissemination of high reliability practices such as team training, mindfulness, and relational coordination. In 2019, she was awarded a VA Career Development Award to study supportive learning environments in VA cardiac catheterization laboratories.

Heather completed her undergraduate degree from Boston College, her master’s degree from Yale University, and her doctorate from the University of Colorado. Her 20+ years of clinical practice as a family nurse practitioner has included acute care, family practice, pediatrics, infection prevention, epidemiology, and public health nursing. She is an assistant professor at the University of Colorado, School of Public Health and adjunct faculty at the University of Colorado, School of Nursing. In 2018, she created and taught the first doctoral course on learning health systems for the University of Colorado Anschutz campus.

Her recent research includes investigations on the role of psychological safety and mindfulness on healthcare providers and patient outcomes, the role of care coordination on Veteran outcomes, and a national survey to establish the state of learning environments and high reliability practices in VA cardiac catheterization laboratories. She has published multiple methodological papers pertaining to structural equation modeling and psychometric analyses of surveys, along with novel implementation methods such as the brainwriting premortem. She collaborates actively with researchers in several disciplines, including medicine, organization psychology, management, economics, anthropology and dissemination and implementation science. These collaborations have led to multiple projects published in high-impact journals such as the BMJ, BMJ Quality and Safety, Nursing Research and Implementation Science.

Brigid Connelly

Professional Research Assistant, Denver/Seattle Center of Innovation, Veterans Administration

Brigid is a Professional Research Assistant working on many quality improvement programs at the Denver-Seattle Center of Innovation for Veteran-Centered and Value-Driven Care since December 2018. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Colorado College in 2017. Following graduation, Brigid worked on substance abuse and drug research before joining the COIN. Her interests include trauma and the administration of care following violence or a traumatic event. 

Catherine (Cathy) Battaglia

Nurse Scientist/Core Investigator, Denver/Seattle Center of Innovation, Veterans Administration

Catherine (Cathy) Battaglia is a nurse scientist and core investigator at the VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System and Director of the Denver Research Education and Mentor Program at the Denver site of the Denver-Seattle Center of Innovation (COIN). She has demonstrated a commitment to the next generation of health scientists through multiple, nationally recognized Veteran Health Administration (VA) and University of Colorado-based programs as an educator and mentor as well as a nurse scientist. Catherine has a background in health services research, dissemination/implementation of interventions in routine clinical practice and mixed methods analyses. Currently, Catherine is the Principal Investigator (PI) of the Quadruple Aim QUERI and Designing for Dissemination and Implementation Training Hub. She is the Site PI or Co-Investigator for three Investigator-Initiated Research (IIR) grants as well as a Veteran Access Research Consortium (VARC) pilot. She completed a VA Nursing Research Initiative (NRI) Merit Award (2009-2014), a Substance Use Disorder QUERI, and quantitative/qualitative evaluations for various operational programs.

As an Associate Professor in the Health System Management and Policy Department in the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Catherine co-directs the Health Services Research PhD program and she teaches two graduate-level courses in the Clinical Science Graduate Program. Over the past 15 years, Catherine has mentored ~34 PhD, DNP, and master’s students. Currently, she is the primary mentor for two early career nurse scientists. 

Rachael Kenney

Project Manager, Evaluator, Denver/Seattle Center of Innovation, Veterans Administration

Rachael Kenney is an Evaluator and Project Manager who began her career focusing on homelessness, mental health, and addiction. Since joining the Veterans Health Administration in 2017, she expanded her work to include rural healthcare and care coordination. Rachael is passionate about bringing Relational Coordination concepts to all facets of her work, from her own teams to the implementation of national programs. She is particularly curious about how evaluators, researchers, and external facilitators can use relational coordination to inform their practices.

Heidi Sjoberg

Clinical Research Social Worker and Implementation Scientist, Denver/Seattle Center of Innovation, Veterans Administration

Heidi is a clinical research social worker and implementation scientist at the Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center in Denver, Colorado. Ms. Sjoberg has experience in pragmatic research and dissemination and implementation of clinical interventions into real-world practice. Ms. Sjoberg received a Master's in Social Work from the University of Denver in 2014 with a specialization in trauma therapy. Ms. Sjoberg received a graduate level certificate of Dissemination and Implementation Science from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in August 2022.

Brianne (Brie) Morgan

Clinical Research Nurse, Denver/Seattle Center of Innovation, Veterans Administration

Brianne Morgan began her career as a clinical research nurse for the VA in 2017. Prior to starting a career in research, Brianne was an inpatient Progressive Care Nurse for 5 years. Since starting in research, Brianne has expanded her role to include lead clinical nurse facilitator and implementation scientist. Brianne is currently working closely with 9 sites nationwide for the Quality Enhancement Research Initiative (QUERI) with the goal to transform care coordination for high-risk complex Veterans, through the implementation of two different evidence-based practices.

Anne Hale

Research Coordinator, Denver/Seattle Center of Innovation, Veterans Administration

Annie is a Research Coordinator working at the Denver-Seattle Center of Innovation for Veteran-Centered and Value-Driven Care since June 2017. They have worked on projects ranging from chronic pain management, care coordination, telehealth, and Whole Health. They received their Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Colorado College in 2017. Annie’s interests include the social and psychological underpinnings of systems and their impact on the individuals those systems impact as well as centering principles of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in research.