The Dedicated Education Unit (DEU) pilot has been implemented on a medical-surgical unit at a suburban Maryland community hospital. Second semester nursing students taking the medical-surgical course will participate in the pilot instead of the traditional clinical during the 15-week spring semester. Clinical faculty and staff nurses received a one-day training workshop about the DEU before implementation. Clinical faculty also participated in the medical-surgical orientation required for all clinical adjunct faculty. Clinical faculty are supported throughout the duration of the study by a project manager who works directly with staff nurses serving as subject matter expert, coach, and mentor.
While there are several variations of the DEU, the basic premise is a clinical model where training of nursing students and quality practice are the two key processes (Claeys, 2015). Students are immersed in the practice setting where they work, one-to-one with a staff nurse to complete clinical objectives. The staff nurse, under the guidance and in collaboration with a clinical instructor, orients students to the unit culture, monitors and evaluates student progress, helps students relate nursing care and patient outcomes, identifies opportunities for improvement and/or remediation, and models professional behaviors (Claeys, et al, 2015 and Crawford, et al, 2018). The DEU is considered an intensive clinical experience compared to the traditional model where one clinical instructor is assigned a group of 6-8 students which operates in the margins rather than as part of the unit (Edgecombe, et al, 1999, Claeys, et al, 2015 and Crawford, et al, 2018).
Claeys, M., Deplaecie, M., Vanderplancke, T., Delbaere, I., Myny, D., Beeckman, D., and Verhaeghe, S. (2015). The difference in learning culture and learning performance between traditional clinical placement and a dedicated education unit and work-based learning. Nurse Education Today 35, e 70-e77.
Crawford, R., Jasonsmith, A., Leuchars, D., Naidu, A., Pool, L., Tosswill, L., Trezise, K., & Wordsworth, A. (2018). “Feeling part of a team” a mixed method evaluation of a dedicated education unit pilot programme. Nurse Education Today 68, 165-171.
Edgecombe, K., Wotton, K., Gonda, J., & Mason, P. 1999. Dedicated education units: 1 A new concept for clinical teaching and learning. Contemporary Nurse, 8, 166-171.