Nursing student clinical experiences enriched through dedicated education units


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. – There is nothing like working closely with an experienced professional to understand how to become successful in a career. This concept is the focus of University of Louisville Hospital (ULH) dedicated education units (DEUs), recognized by the Kentucky Board of Nursing as the first DEU program in Kentucky.

    These units provide University of Louisville School of Nursing students clinical experiences with practicing bachelor’s degree prepared registered nurses (RNs). Hospital RNs identified as patient care leaders receive additional training to function in the role of RN clinical adjunct faculty. They give instruction to students while maintaining their patient care responsibilities. UofL School of Nursing faculty members provide oversight of the experiences.

    UofL nursing student Shelby Moses and ULH nurse Jenny Jones were paired in the hospital’s first DEU established last year on 5 South, a progressive care unit.

    “This was my first clinical rotation in a hospital – which can be daunting,” Moses said. “It was incredible to work closely with a nurse and see how they manage day-to-day tasks and interact with patients; the experience helped me understand what I’ll be up against in the future.”

    For ULH nurses, the experience offers professional development and fosters pride and ownership of education and practice opportunities.

    “These students are appreciative of having someone show them the ropes – they’ve been able to help with dressing changes, administer medication and observe patient assessments” Jones said.

    “The ULH model supports the School of Nursing’s adult health course, while applying concepts learned into professional practice, alongside the highly trained staff RNs at ULH,” said Cathy Velasquez, DNP, RN, CPHM, ULH professional development coordinator.

    This collaborative model for Dedicated Education Units provides more one-to-one interaction than the traditional clinical rotations, and can increase a student’s satisfaction with their clinical education experience.

    “This program gives students a better picture of how care is provided at ULH so they have a greater understanding of how an academic health care environment functions,” said Mary Jane Adams, MSN, RN, ULH senior vice president and chief nursing officer.

    “This model offers students a quality clinical experience, and promotes our academic/practice partnership with ULH. It is an innovative approach to education that is preparing our graduates to best meet the growing health care needs of patients in the Commonwealth and the nation,” said Diane Chlebowy, PhD, RN, director, UofL School of Nursing BSN programs.

    Moses is in her last semester of nursing academic preparation and is completing her required patient care hours on 5 South at ULH. She hopes to pursue additional education and eventually become an administrator where she can help implement programs like the DEU model.

    “I definitely see the need for this, and believe nursing students in other parts of Kentucky could really benefit,” she said.

    Julie Heflin
    Julie oversees digital content for the Office of Communications and Marketing. She began her UofL career on the Health Sciences Center campus in 2007. Prior to this, Julie was a journalist with WFPL (Louisville Public Media), and occasionally filed reports for National Public Radio.