Pilot study of a dedicated education unit: Lessons learned

Karen J. Polvado, Susan Sportsman, Pam Bradshaw


Background and objective: Nursing programs in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States are implementing Dedicated Education Units (DEU) as an innovative approach to provide clinical experiences for undergraduate nursing students. In August 2014 a university in Texas received a state grant to institute a pilot implementation of a DEU as a means of increasing the number of pre-licensure nursing students in the BSN program. The following objectives were designed to provide structure to implement and evaluate the DEU project: (1) Develop and implement a DEU model for pre-licensure nursing clinical education in four medical-surgical courses, using two nursing units at a local regional hospital; (2) Test the effectiveness of the DEU model of clinical education for pre-licensure nursing students; and (3) Increase the number of BSN-prepared nurses serving as DEU Clinical Instructors who enroll in a MSN-Nurse Educator program by six in the first semester of the grant.

Methods: A variety of methods were used to evaluate effectiveness of this project, including focus groups of participants; qualitative assessment of the project orientation process for students, faculty and staff; quantitative analysis of examination scores, course scores, competency evaluations, and enrollment data.

Results: Project evaluation revealed some positive results; however, problems related to orientation and ongoing support were seen as a barrier to successful implementation. Work overload for the Clinical Instructors also negatively impacted the effectiveness of the project. The number of students involved in this project was dictated by the space available in the designated DEUs. Even though the small sample size was insufficient for a research study, the results of this project may be of interest to others implementing a DEU.

Conclusions: This paper focuses on lessons learned from the implementation a DEU pilot project and provides a number of suggestions for addressing challenges. The analysis of the results of this pilot project and related recommendations to avoid or ameliorate the challenges may be instructive for other schools planning to initiate a DEU.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/jnep.v5n12p122

Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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