Mercy College and Mercy Health - St. Anne Hospital partner for Dedicated Education Unit

Denise Hudgin

Traditional nursing clinical experience places one clinical faculty instructor with up to 8-10 nursing students on a hospital unit. The students are responsible to help with the care of assigned patients while the clinical instructor coaches the students. The staff nurses continue to provide care to their patients and may or may not interact with the student. In the DEU model, practicing staff nurses who are clinical practice experts take on the role of clinical nurse trainer as primary teacher, coach and mentor to nursing students for their clinical experience. A faculty instructor will provide support to the staff nurses and students as well as evaluate students meeting the clinical outcomes.

Evidence has shown that the DEU helps to improve students’ time management skills, nursing skills, clinical judgment and clinical decision-making abilities, critical thinking skills, and self-confidence. This in turn may help improve student performance on the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX) and ultimately better prepare them to begin working as a nurse. There is a benefit for the clinical nurse trainer who invests in and mentors nursing students to help develop competent future nurses. The healthcare facility may also benefit as the nursing students become enculturated to the facility and the unit, which may result in the retention of students as future nurses. This in turn may help to decrease the nursing shortage at the facility.

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