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UB nursing students first to gain hands-on experience in delivery rooms, ICUs in Buffalo

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Tue, Feb 16th 2016 11:15 am

By the University at Buffalo

Delivery rooms and intensive care units are now open to students seeking clinical experience within the University at Buffalo School of Nursing, the first program in Buffalo to offer the specialties to students.

The School of Nursing recently added three new sites in Western New York to its dedicated education units (DEU) program, a partnership between the nursing school and local hospitals, hospices and medical centers to provide students with credit-bearing clinical experiences and mentorship from staff nurses.

The new sites include:

  • Labor and delivery DEU at Sisters of Charity Hospital
  • Post-operative care and hospice DEU at Sisters of Charity Hospital
  • Intensive care unit DEU at Mercy Hospital of Buffalo

Piloted in 2008 with four units at Erie County Medical Center and the now-closed Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital, the additions expand the program to 16 DEU sites across the Catholic Health System, Kaleida Health, Erie County Medical Center, Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Hospice of Buffalo.

The new, specialized DEUs add to an extensive list of areas nursing students can now gain practical experience in, including pediatrics, labor and delivery, and obstetrics. 

Advances in medical science in the past 50 years have increased the amount of knowledge and technical skill nursing students needs to acquire.

With nursing students finding their transition to their first jobs challenging, the DEU offers the hands-on experience that is vital to educating the next generation of nurses.

"The DEU helps students develop the early confidence and competence they need to succeed in a professional role," said Susan Grinslade, Ph.D., assistant dean for undergraduate programs in the School of Nursing.

"It gives them the opportunity to fully integrate what they're learning within the classroom in the clinical practice, improves their critical thinking and their ability to make sound clinical judgments related to patient care."

In the DEU, staff nurses are the instructors, while faculty assist in a support role. The students and nurses share assignments, allowing students to learn, nursing staff to sharpen their skills as mentors, and faculty to remain grounded in clinical reality.

Each nurse is assigned two students, providing students with more interaction than they would normally receive with their professors through courses, where the faculty-to-student ratio is eight to one.

All UB nursing students are guaranteed at least one DEU experience, with most participating during their junior or senior years of study. In any given semester, between 50 percent and 75 percent of students are enrolled in a DEU, typically earning four credits for 16 hours of clinical training per week, Grinslade said.

The School of Nursing aims to develop its next DEU in the field of behavioral health or in a primary care setting.

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