The Dedicated Education Unit: A Model for Fostering Healthy Work Environments
Iacono, Laura Ann
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Session presented on Saturday, April 13, 2013: Background: Healthy work environments are essential to optimize quality patient and family centered care. The American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) has identified the irrefutable link between healthy work environments and patient safety, nurse retention, and recruitment. Method: The Dedicated Education Unit (DEU) model fosters the student nurse (SN) to professional nurse transition by immersing the SN in the clinical environment under the supervision of a consistent staff RN who serves as the Clinical Instructor (CI). North Shore University Hospital and Adelphi University School of Nursing partnered to launch the DEU in the fall of 2012. University faculty provided the CI's with a continuing education program on the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to perform effectively in the role of CI. Using valid and reliable instruments, data were collected on professionalism in practice among the CI's on the DEU unit. Additionally, data were collected from the SNs on the DEU experience. Results: Healthy work environment components of communication, collaboration, decision making, staffing, recognition and authentic leadership are all incorporated in the DEU model. For example, the entire unit staff made schedule adjustments to support the cohort of SN/CI dyads. Preliminary analysis of results include that students in the DEU have more opportunities to observe and utilize inter-professional communication skills, and to partner in the process of effective decision-making with healthcare team members, patients, and families than SNs not in the DEU setting. Conclusion: The DEU is an exemplar of true collaboration between academia and practice that fosters a healthy work environment through teaching, mentorship and socialization to the clinical setting. Registered nurses gain experiences in authentic leadership and professional development by serving as CI's. Detailed study findings and the mutual benefits for academia and practice will also be discussed in the presentation.