Innovations in Clinical Education: The Dedicated Education Unit
The UNMC College of Nursing has implemented an innovative Dedicated Education Unit (DEU) clinical model for both traditional and accelerated BSN students. In the DEU model, students provide patient care alongside an experienced staff nurse who has been oriented to the role of the Clinical Staff Instructor (CSI).
In the traditional clinical education model, one clinical faculty supervises 8-10 students. Students work with a variety of staff nurses and may work with a particular nurse only once leading to increased student anxiety that may interfere with learning. In addition, there is limited opportunity to build trust between the students and the staff nurse. This traditional model is depicted in the diagram below.
The diagram below depicts the DEU model. In the DEU clinical model, one faculty mentor oversees 10-12 nursing students, but each pair of students work at the bedside with one CSI, who is a nurse on the unit. The students work with the same CSI every clinical day. College of Nursing faculty function as a mentor for the staff nurse in this new role of clinical staff instructor. Final evaluation of student performance is completed jointly between the CSI and the faculty mentor.
The advantages to this model are:
- CSIs volunteer or are recruited by managers to participate in this model. They participate in a formal orientation session. During this development session, they learn effective clinical teaching strategies, evaluation principles, and strategies for providing both positive feedback and feedback for improvement.
- CSIs supervise two nursing students during the entire clinical rotation resulting in a trusting relationship between student and CSI. The CSI can effectively build on student strengths and remediate student learning needs. Students perceive themselves as part of a team  and have greater development of cognitive, psychomotor, and communication skills .
- There is enhanced student accountability for health care delivery .
- There is greater acceptance of students by staff, facilitating greater involvement in nursing work .
Although the HRSA grant that supported the development of this model at UNMC has come to a close, the DEU clinical education model remains in place so that nursing students and CSIs continue to reap the benefits of this innovative program. Reflection on this clinical model from students, faculty, CSIs and hospital administrators are on the right. Their comments operationalize the benefits of the DEU model.
 Edgecombe, 1999
 Edgecombe, 1999
 Boogaerts, 2005
 Ranse, 2007