UB School of Nursing Expands Its Model to Ease Nursing Shortage, Promote Excellence in Clinical Nursing Education

Release Date: January 26, 2010 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo and Roswell Park Cancer Institute on Jan. 28 will begin the latest step in UB's expanding academic model to address the nationwide nursing shortage, launching a clinical nursing education program unique in New York State.

The new program -- an innovative model for providing clinical nursing education, called the Dedicated Educational Unit approach -- was developed by hospital administrators, nurse-clinicians and UB faculty, and designed to give nursing students the best clinical experience available.

The newest edition of the DEU approach will be showcased at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Jan. 28 at Roswell Park. Because of patient considerations, the reception is intended for hospital and university staff only.

UB is the first university in the Northeast to implement the DEU nursing model. The UB School of Nursing spearheaded the DEU implementation as a pilot program in fall 2008. DEU clinical environments continue to expand each academic semester.

"Clearly, this model has become a major focus for clinical education for students enrolled in UB's School of Nursing," says Martha J. Kemsley, PhD, RN, CPNP, clinical associate professor and coordinator of DEU. "This model has provided all students at least one opportunity for a clinical experience on a Dedicated Educational Unit.

"Additionally, the UB School of Nursing took the lead in bringing nurse educators and clinical service partners together by initiating the Western New York DEU Consortium," Kemsley said. "This consortium provides an environment for nurse educators and clinical agency leaders to share their experiences and problem-solve issues related to the DEU clinical education model."

UB's latest expansion plans take the DEU model to Roswell Park, creating what UB and hospital officials believe to be the state's first DEU program in a comprehensive cancer center. The kickoff ceremony will include brief speeches from Maureen Kelly, vice president of nursing at Roswell Park; JoAnne McVey, nurse manager for 5West/5North, and Grace Dean, PhD, RN, UB assistant professor of nursing.

UB's School of Nursing introduced the DEU concept after two UB School of Nursing faculty members attended a consortium at the University at Portland in July 2007 to learn about the innovative model for providing clinical education. Excited about the potential educational benefits of the DEU model, the UB School of Nursing adapted this model in Fall 2008.

Following its implementation, the UB School of Nursing faculty members and their service partners presented a DEU Symposium in March 2009 attended by nurse educators and nursing administrators considering implementation of the DEU model. Other nursing programs are now using the information shared at the symposium to implement the DEU model.

The traditional approach of UB's nursing school to hospital-based clinical nursing education assigns one UB clinical nursing faculty member to supervise and provide clinical education to eight nursing students. This ratio of 1:8 clearly has its limitations, requiring students often to wait their turn to receive direction from their faculty supervisor.

DEUs function differently, according to Kemsley. Specially trained hospital-based nurses act as staff clinical instructors, sharing their clinical experience, knowledge and expertise with the student nurses. These instructors are paired with two student nurses, who receive individual attention and instruction in each hospital specialty unit. (A nursing "unit" refers to patients with similar needs who are grouped together.)

The model allows each student to develop a one-on-one relationship with the staff nurse instructor, and provides more opportunities to use the critical thinking at the bedside required to plan and implement the complex nursing care required by today's health-care consumer. The DEU project has produced benefits for both nursing students and the hospitals. Students who have performed well and have formed good professional relationships with their DEU nurses are likely to apply for employment in those hospitals and to be first-in-line for staff openings, according to School of Nursing faculty members who have worked on the DEU programs in operation.

The DEU model also provides DEU staff nurses with opportunities to support ongoing professional commitment to the nursing profession. The DEU model assists health care employers to retain their best nurses and recruit new ones, both of which will address the continued shortage of qualified nurses.

"We are excited about the opportunity to partner with our clinical agencies to develop what we all believe is a much stronger way of educating nurses for the future," Kemsley says. "It (the DEU model) is considered a win-win situation for nursing education and service practice partners, with the ultimate beneficiaries being the recipients of nursing care in Western New York."

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

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